And it is not just employees' children that fall under Vallone's A New Era in Corporate Culture protective gaze. It's vital, she says, that spouses Уunderstand and tolerateФ the oft enormous demands of the super-charged marketplace. ToFor some companies, taking very good care of their employees is ward that end, the company produces and distributes a family newsletter good for the bottom line.
to inform the folks at home about corporate goings-on.
By Sue Mellen УWe ask a lot of our people and of their families. If we're asking someone to get on a plane on a Sunday night, it really helps if a spouse In the corporate world of the 80's it was all pin-striped suits, butunderstands why,Ф she says. In keeping with Vallone's casual managetoned-down collars and shiny mahogany desks. But all too many busiment style, every day is casual dress day and the ULT space is designed nesses discovered all too quickly that the shine was just a thin patina.
to allow room for individual expression.
All the polish in the world did nothing to save bottom lines that just got УPeople in high tech often make use of their offices as inventive duller and dingier all the time.
environments, sometimes working 12 or 15 hours a day. At the height Fast forward to today.
of a project, they may be virtually living at work. So they need the freeУWhen you look at the 80s, you see that there was all this ecodom to set up their own environments. That can be hard for a designer nomic excess. People were driven by monetary gain. Then, when we when you're sliooting for a clean, crisp look, but you have to build in went into the slump, people began to look at priorities, at what really the room for that individuality,Ф comments Ed Halsted of the Halsted drives success. And do you know what It's really personal satisfaction.
Design Group in Manchester. Halsted created the design for the ULT People who have happy and supportive lives Ц both at home and at work space.
are more productive. In the 80s everyone expected you to sacrifice your Vallone says she likes to show her appreciation to employees personal life, your family for your work. Now it's frowned upon if you do who are putting in these kinds of mind-numbing hours. Sometimes she sacrifice a personal and family life,Ф comments Carol Vallone, president does that with traditional means; restaurant gift certificates, for examand CEO of Universal Learning Technology (ULT) in Peabody.
ple. But then there's the non-traditional approach.
The company, which builds Web-based and interactive training УWe were at a conference and my sales manager had been going and learning applications, is one of many in the area and industry worknon-stop. So I sent a massage therapist up to his room to help him reing to build a culture that is fun, flexible and people-centered. For exlax,Ф Vallone recalls.
At the Cambridge-based Web design firm TVisions, relaxation is That ability to work as a team can be critical, she notes, when the serious business; a component of corporate identity, really. Like ULT crunch is on~a nearly permanent condition in fast-growingtechnology the five-year-old firm Ц which started with two employees and now companies like ULT. Founded in 1996, the private, venture-backed houses 115-is growing exponentially.
company counted five employees last fall. It now has 30 and Vallone УAs engineers, we wanted to face the challenges of new techexpects to hit the 100 mark in a few months. But rather than inducing nologies and to solve problems that might help a lot of people. As we've her to pull in the corporate reins, the growth-related pressure has grown, that attitude has remained part of us. We want to give people the prompted her to insist that employees take time out every day to reopportunity to work on interesting projects. And the extracurricular charge. Of course, there is one hard and fast company rule.
77 stuff is the same; we want to give people opportunities that are fun and The road signs are clear: corporate culture is driving clear out of exciting,Ф says Tom Little, company co-founder and executive vice uptight, traditional territory. The road ahead is designed to give hardpresident. working employees a smooth, satisfying and Ц above all Ц balanced So, on any given lunch hour, you may find ballroom dancers ride.
twirling about, musicians tuning up their instruments or cardplayers in УThink about it. Have you ever heard an older person say, 'I wish an ongoing Hearts tournament poring over their hands. Little says that I'd spent more time at work I haven't,Ф concludes ULT's Vallone.
the card tournament-currently in its eighth week-shows the important role a fun group activity can play in the larger scheme of things. COMPREHENSION OUESTIONS УPeople get a chance to know one another outside of their usual 1. According to the article, what really drives success work situations. So when they're working together, they feel more con2. What were employees expected to sacrifice in the 80s nected, more like a team,Ф he adds.
3. What is the one hard and fast company rule at Universal Outside the workplace, TVisions employees get together for softLearning Technology (ULT) ball and soccer games and rock-climbing expeditions. And once a year, 4. At ULT, which days of the week are casual dress days the company foots the bill for an employee/family getaway. УIt is 5. What does the co-founder and executive vice-president of the money well-spent,Ф says Little. УThanks to a highly selective recruiting Web design firm TVisions want to give his employees process, we have very talented people with whom we want to build 6. What kind of mentality still pervades Lyс.
long-term relationships. Our goal is to provide a rich environment and try to nurture our employees' skills all along the way,Ф he says.
DISCUSSION OUESTIONS And if you're talking growth, Lycos Ц the Waltham-based Web 1. Describe the corporate world in Russia in the early 1990s.
chieftain-stands near the top of the heap. The company now employs How is it different now Why 430 with another 780 comprising acquired companies. But a Уstart-up 2. Was there a lot of economic excess in Russia in the midmentalityФ still pervades the workplace, says Gretchen McAuliffe, di1990s Were people just driven by monetary gain then Why rector of human resources.
After the economic crisis, did people begin to look more at what "In the beginning, it was almost familial. We've always had an really drives success Why or why not extremely casual atmosphere. That helps when you're working really 3. What is the prevailing attitude at your company Why Are hard,Ф she says.
people expected to sacrifice their personal lives for work But, when the workday is over, Lycos folks don't have to drive to 4. Is your company working to build a corporate culture that is their local health clubs to work off all that stress. There's a gym on-site.
fun, flexible and people-centered (like at ULT) How If it is not, Or, if group activities are more their thing, they can sign up for lunchshould it How What kind of corporate culture is your company curhour Tae Kwon Do or kick-boxing lessons.
rently trying to build УOf course we've always had Ping-Pong and foosball tables in the 5. Does your company encourage you to never miss one of your cafeteria. They get a lot of use,Ф McAuliffe says.
kids' important events Is your company big on parents being present УAnd for the ultimate, tangible expression of the/non-traditional for their children How Lycos culture, employees can have their cars УLycos-izedФ to sport the 6. Does your company give you and your colleagues a lot of Lycos logo. That might mean either a complete paint job or simply a freedom to set up your own environment Why and how few strategically-placed magnetsФ, McAuliffe explains.
79 7. Does your company give people a chance to get to know one VOCABULARY EXTENSION (19) another outside of their usual work situations Provide specific exam1. During the economic crisis of 1998, which tactics did your ples. What are the benefits -does it make them feel more connected and company use to save the bottom line result in stronger teams 2. What strategies does your company have for dealing with the 8. Does your company have a highly selective recruiting procnext economic slump ess Does it attract verytalented people with whom it wants to build 3. Which employee practices are frowned upon at your comlong-term relationships Describe therecruiting process and how you pany Why were recruited. How could you improve the process 4. How do you react when the crunch is on at work What are 9. Where is your corporate culture headed Why What are you your coping mechanisms Give a specific example.
doing to help determine the direction 5. Do you work for a venture-backed company Who are the 10. Have you ever heard one of your colleagues say, УI wish I'd principal investors spent more time at workФ Have you ever felt this way Why or why If you had venture capital, what kinds of new businesses (locally) not might you invest in Why 6. What is the most effective way of inducing consumers to buy SOME SPECIAL WORDS your product / service Why TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND THE TEXT 7. What changes in your company's reward system would repatina Ц налет charge your staffs batteries Why duller and dingier Ц тусклее и сомнительнее 8. What are the hard and fast rules of getting promoted within monetary garn Ц нажива your company applications Ц зд. курсы 9. What is vital to the long-term success of your career Why slump Ц экономический спад 10. Does your boss keep you under his / her protective gaze Do venture-backed company Ц поддерживаемый коммерческой you keep your subordinates under your protective gaze Why or why де€тельностью not induce Ц склон€ть 11. In your opinion, which management function is the most hard and fast rule Ц твердое правило mind-numbing Why iТm very big on Ц € всегда за то, чтобы 12. Are any of the following figures growing exponentially: the super-charged Ц наэлектризованный number of your customers Number of your suppliers Number of your casual management Ц неформальное competitors Number of your foreign partners Number of new govmind-numbering Ц ошеломл€ющие ernment regulations Level of economic uncertainty / certainty Why face the challenges Ц испытать 13. Which extracurricular activities/events does your company getaway Ц вылазка sponsor or organize for its employees to nurture Ц взращивать, вскармливать 14. How much time do you spend poring over management jourcomprising Ц в составе nals / magazines in search of new ideas Why pervade Ц пропитывает 15. How does your company nurture its employees' skills over mentality Ц дух the long-term to sport Ц щегол€ть shoot for Ц охотитьс€ за foot the bill Ц оплачивать счет 81 16. What mentality pervades your company Why Is this men- УThere are some key questions a job candidate should ask before tality the same as yours What have you done to try to change either accepting a position,Ф says San Diego-based Perim Consulting's Brian your company's mentality, your own mentality or both Lange. УIf the candidate can ask interviewers Ц and ideally other com17. What are tangible expressions of your company's attitude pany employees Ц the following questions, he or she may get some toward its employees valuable insights:
18. Would you describe the atmosphere at your company as laid- Х How would you describe the nature of the work environback or uptight Why ment 19. How would you conclude a speech about the future of the Rus- Х How do you think the managers within the company would sian economy (Your conclusion should summarize your main points.) describe their management philosophies or roles Х Do you feel you know what is expected of you Recognizing a Bad Corporate Culture Х Do you receive feedback on your performance Х Are there opportunities for development / training By Laura Boswell Also, be certain to get an idea of how teams communicate and work together at your future job. Much of bad corporate culture can be A company's corporate culture can be just as important as your traced to lack of communication. One company's survey of exiting empaycheck when it comes to your career satisfaction.
ployees found that 65 % noted that a lack of coaching or feedback was No matter how detailed a job description or want ad is, you can't key in their decision to leaveФ (УWhy Employees Leave,Ф Employment fully know what it will be like to work at a particular company without Management Today, Winter 2000).
getting an understanding of its corporate culture. And no matter how УUsually, when a management team doesn't receive strong mesgreat a job is, the culture (a company's day-to-day way of doing busisages from senior management about the company's direction or values, ness and expectations of its employees) can make or break your perthey tend to implement multiple operating plans that are disconnected formance-and your sanity.
from each other,Ф says Lange. УIf companies don't know what they don't A recent U.S. News and World Report article (УWhy It Pays to stand for (and what they won't stand for!), where they're going and what Quit,Ф November 1, 1999) reported that this year, approximately makes them unique in the marketplace, they will never reach the level million workers will quit their jobs, up 6 million from five years ago.
of corporate self-actualization.Ф In today's strong economy, better money is certainly a driving Perhaps you are already in a job where you dislike the corporate force here. But many experts argue that Уbetter moneyФ is a scapegoat culture. What can you do used by departing employees and exasperated managers to mask deeper УIt is difficult for one person to overhaul an entire company's culissues in a company's culture. Rather than Уmoney,Ф it may be the ture, but there are some things you can do,Ф says Lange.
things that are difficult for a company to admit-high profits that are not Х Do research and reading on improving current culture, and shared, low ethics, distrust and intolerance-that send an employee share it with someone in a more senior position to get the ball rolling searching for greener pastures.
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