Companies Are People, Too

Archive for March, 2013

Part 2: Behaviors Can Be Seen – Beliefs Can’t

Because it was part of the culture of my family of origin, I believe children should be seen and not heard.  That value (respect) drove my behavior as a child, especially in the company of adults.  This very basic example of behaviors modeling beliefs can be extended to corporate America where I believe values should be lived and rarely, if ever, changed.

 

Behaviors and Beliefs

In Part 1 of our look at the clash of two cultures at the Chicago-based Tribune Co., we saw how disregarding the ingrained values of the 166-year-old company hampered efforts to enforce a new culture driven by opposing values. The example illustrates the difficulties of imposing change to a company’s culture without first understanding and embracing its long-standing beliefs.  What’s the best way to validate those values?  By observing common behaviors among the leadership and staff.  Behaviors are the manifestation of beliefs! And that’s why values (and cultures) are extremely difficult to change.   When merging two cultures, each with ingrained core va

lues, start with the commonalities.  If there are none, watch out!

 

Now, let’s take a look at some thoughts about beliefs and behaviors:

  • “It’s easier to behave your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a different way of behaving.” – Chris Parker
  • “Beliefs determine Behaviors which influence Relationships which in turn affect Results.”  – Tom Crane
  • “Behaviors can be seen.  Beliefs can’t. Leadership’s behaviors need to model the beliefs (actions speak louder than words….and beliefs)” -  Julie Kantor
  • “Core values are timeless and do not change, while practices and strategies should be changing all the time.” – Jim Collins
  • “It’s not a value if 99% of the people aren’t behaving that way 99% of the time.” – Sandy Fekete

 

Achieving alignment between beliefs and behaviors drives culture.   In an upcoming post, we’ll look at the airline industry as many carriers struggle to combine culture, processes, and strategies in the wake of merger mania.

 

If you are interested in learning more about your company’s culture, take the Companies Are People, Too personality assessment.

Posted in: Change Management, Company Culture

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Part 1: Behaviors Can Be Seen – Beliefs Can’t

Chicago TribunePrior to initiating change it is essential to consider the beliefs and behaviors that are ingrained in the company. Behaviors can be seen – beliefs can’t. This is most apparent in the behaviors of a company’s leadership, which everyone inside and outside the organization sees and monitors. If new leadership is put into place, he/she must behave as the company believes, not as they believe.

 

Here’s an example: Sam Zell took control of the distressed Chicago-based Tribune Co. in 2007 with hopes to make it profitable. Zell and newly appointed CEO, Randy Michaels, shocked and alienated their employees by implementing a new culture in accordance with their personal values rather than those of the company. Let’s compare the values of the 166-year-old company vs. those of the new duo:

 

Tribune Co.’s Values

  • Citizenship
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Diversity
  • Employee Involvement
  • Financial Strength
  • Innovation
  • Integrity
  • Teamwork

Zell & Michaels’ Values

  • Creative Spirit
  • Fast Paced
  • Freewheeling
  • Loose Culture
  • Fun Atmosphere

 

Employees felt discouraged by the behaviors from leadership including cronyism in hiring practices, sexual harassment and off-color jokes. Needless to say, Zell failed to revive the company. A year after he took control he was forced to file for bankruptcy protection which lasted until 2012.  Zell sold the company at a loss of $3.7 billion, and Tribune Co. continues to fight to get back on its feet.

 

Will we ever know what would have happened if Tribune Co was placed under different leadership back in 2007? Check back next week for a part 2 post on behaviors and beliefs.

 

To avoid a similar mistake and get a better understanding of what the people of your company are experiencing internally, we can help. Here’s a free trial of the Companies Are People, Too organizational assessment to find out your company’s personality.

Posted in: Brand Alignment, Change Management, Company Culture

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