One of my many half-completed lockdown projects is to stop wasting time on football, music and (especially) politics blogs and read more widely. That’s why this article is a bit Business Secrets of The Pharaohs but please bear with me. I’m currently reading Dominion by Tom Holland, a history of Christian thought. This blog is not intended as a book review, I’ll just say I recommend it and get (a bit closer) to the point.
In 325, the Roman Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea, a gathering of bishops from across the empire, from Mesopotamia, Britain and beyond. Amid rancorous theological debate, the aim of the (month long) conference was revolutionarily ambitious: to cohere and codify a statement of belief to be upheld universally by all Christian churches. As Tom Holland puts it:
“Constantine had hit upon a momentous discovery: that the surest way to join a people as one was to unite them not in common rituals, but in a common belief.”
Because I’m a very interesting person, the parallel with organisational culture stood out immediately. No matter how disparate the job roles or tasks completed by people within a business (maybe one as geographically distant as the Holy Roman Empire), what binds it together and makes it successful is its vision, mission, purpose and values.
The company I work for has a keen sense of culture. PeopleScout’s team members are distinct and diverse, sharing personalities (this blog is a case in point) and contributions with one another and our clients is encouraged. But it’s no contradiction that we believe the success of our business is a shared experience. We achieve our goals by embodying our culture principles which are driven by our mission and motivated by our vision. Our culture is something we have in common with our colleagues all around the world. It makes us a great place to work, and it makes our work great.
Constantine cracked this 1700 years ago, so it’s surprising how often cultural fit (or cultural add) is still overlooked in talent management – both acquisition and retention – in favour of a narrower focus on skills, qualifications and experience.
Sorry to get all “in these unprecedented times” on you but I am compelled to point out why the ability to define and convey your organisation’s culture might take on additional importance and context just now. More and more is being thought, written and planned about a great reboarding project. Whether rolling back from a working from home solution, or returning employees from furloughed status, it’s not just gaps in knowledge and instruction that need to be addressed but emotional connections that need to be re-established.