Cultivating Company Culture
The key to improved job performance and satisfaction
By Richard Komarniski
Job expectations begin with the basic premise that people want to do well. Whether or not people live up to those expectations has a lot to do with the corporate culture in which they operate. Trying to reduce human error in the maintenance department begins with a look inward at the corporate culture.
An experienced AMT working on a new model aircraft for two months made the error of setting off the fire bottle squibs when troubleshooting the fire detection relays. The company’s immediate reaction was to discipline the individual for creating this error and causing the aircraft to be delayed for two days until new fire bottles were installed. When this technician’s supervisor was questioned on this incident, the supervisor’s response was "He ignored everything we taught him. He didn’t do what we told him to do. He made an error that grounded the aircraft."
The supervisors’ statement is an example of trying to put the blame on individuals and absolving the corporate culture of any contribution to the incident. His comments reflect a corporate culture that illustrates a practice of "fixing the blame before fixing the problem." The causes of the task breakdown can be categorized as dysfunctional attitudes (both corporate and individual), skill deficiencies, inadequate knowledge levels and system design deficiencies.
Don’t train in vain
Attitudes can be changed and modified so that they become positive components to superior performance. Keep in mind that spending a large amount of time and money on training cannot fix bad attitudes by themselves. The environment at home or work must be conducive to behavioral change before results can be achieved.
Corporate culture deficiencies are an important ingredient in human performance breakdowns. Individual attitudes are an interaction between organizational, personal, and environmental factors. To minimize the frequency and occurrence of counterproductive attitudes in the maintenance department, it is essential to consider all of these factors. Recognizing the influence of the corporate culture and the individual attitudes as contributors in human performance breakdowns helps in assessing methods for fixing problems. When managers and leaders develop and nurture productive, positive attitudes, then safe, effective, and profitable performance is the result. Most current management and leadership gurus observe that attitudes and corporate cultures are a top-down phenomena. High quality leadership has immediate and profound impact on employee attitudes. Deficient or negative leadership cripples an organization in very short order.
Beware of apathy
Apathy on the part of upper management that views certain tasks, functions, or responsibilities as non-critical is easily seen and internalized by employees. People perceive that certain aspects of their work are not nearly as important, such as custodial or housekeeping tasks.
Corporate culture is quickly learned by observing the subtle messages management communicates that can detract from the importance of a job function. Lack of respect for organizational ethics spreads rapidly once it starts. What is and is not important is quickly picked up by the maintenance team members who then learn to ignore what is inconsequential to their organization. "It won’t matter" becomes pervasive, but eventually it will matter.