USING CULTURE CHANGE TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN TALENTED EMPLOYEES

Employee engagement has become a major initiative in organizations attempting to improve their performance. It makes sense: Engaged employees are committed and more likely to volunteer their energy toward organizational goals. How to create this energy is not as clear. We believe the key to engagement is to create a culture that will unleash energy toward organizational goals and improved performance. 

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What Does it Take to Lead an Organizational Culture Change?

There are two major conditions necessary to create an organizational culture change: first, there must be a compelling reason to change and, second, there needs to be a leader who will engage organizational members in change.  In their recent book, Unleashing Human Energy through Culture Change Don Rust and Alan Weinstein tell the story of how a major manufacturing plant of General Motors, two weeks from closure, not only changed its culture but set a world record in production. 

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Alan Weinstein
The Pivotal Role of Human Energy

Human energy is not easily measured.   Even within the discipline of industrial engineering, we do not currently have any valid way to measure it in units.  Yet, it can be inferred that once released, human energy can make something happen.  We all possess a certain amount of energy that can be called upon when we have a task to perform, and, depending on the magnitude of the task, we can probably complete it and then go on to another task.  Whether we are willing to limit our energy output or expend it beyond what is normally called for is an open question that every organization must deal with.  Clearly, whichever of these paths is taken will make a difference in productivity and performance.

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Setting the Stage for Culture Change

Our story begins with one of the most powerful and successful companies in the world self-destructing and ultimately declaring bankruptcy. The seeds of destruction were apparent even during its most successful years, when it reported strong sales and financial results. In 1965, General Motors owned 60 percent of the U.S. automobile market and was making inroads into markets in other countries. The company’s biggest fear at the time was that the government would file an antitrust suit against it and divide it into smaller units. Those fears were short-lived, as market share plummeted, and a long, gradual decline of the company ensued. GM’s most recent market share in the U.S. is under 20 percent.

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Alan Weinstein