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Culture and ethical practice form the real face of business

An aerial view of Nairobi City Hall.
Photo/FILE An aerial view of Nairobi City Hall. It pays Sh140 million per month against an average monthly revenue collection of Sh400 million.  

Wonders never cease. City Hall is ISO certified.

Now, for your information, ISO certified organisations are required to maintain quality standards around their procedures and processes. Their policies must be documented and communicated to all relevant personnel and the management must ensure that the documents are understood and implemented.

Barely two weeks ago, PwC produced a report that 92 per cent of the Council’s 11,392 employees are ‘incompetent’!

It found that more than nine-out-of-ten City Hall employees were either semi-skilled or unskilled, a fact that seriously impairs the Council’s efficiency. More than half of NCC employees never progressed beyond primary school education.

For a Council where 70 per cent of its expenditure goes to staff costs, about Sh580 million per month, the PwC report estimated that some 3,676 of those currently employed are surplus to requirements.

Organisational culture

Now, before you laugh out too loud, let me remind you that a company rises and falls on its culture. Culture is the values and practices shared by the members of the group. Your company’s culture, therefore, is the shared values and practices of the company’s employees.

Companies with an adaptive culture that is aligned to their business goals routinely outperform their competitors.

Some studies report the difference at 200 per cent or more. To achieve results like this for your organisation, you have to figure out what your culture is, decide what it should be, and move everyone toward the desired culture. Organisation cultures evolve and change over time.

As employees leave the company and replacements are hired the company culture will change. If it is a strong culture, it may not change much.

However, as each new employee brings their own values and practices to the group, the culture will change, at least a little. As the company matures from a startup to a more established company, the culture will change. As the environment in which the company operates changes, the company culture will also change.

Building a strong culture is a key priority for entrepreneurs.

Nothing is more important when it comes to recruiting and building a team. Your team determines your success and the way your team interacts will be largely affected by the culture you build at the beginning. But how and where do you start?

When you bring on new team members, their experience and skills are clearly important (and a pre-requisite).

However, I would argue that cultural fit is even more important. It only takes one bad apple to throw off the vibe of an entire team.

You will have enough hurdles to cross when you are an entrepreneur. So do not make your life more difficult by hiring (or keeping) people who ruin the positive momentum everybody else works hard to build. Finding people that fit your culture is key, but make sure you also look for a variety of skill sets and personalities.

Creating a culture for your company is about cultivating passion in both your team and customer base. Your culture clarifies your identity, your values and your beliefs, in addition to more basic things like the products or services you offer. Think “City Hall” and you generate a certain slew of images.

On the other extreme, mention “Windsor Golf and Country Club” and the thought process goes in the opposite direction.

When you create a company culture, you’ll find yourself and your employees all dancing around the same bonfire.

It unifies your mission and adds meaning (and fun) to your daily activities. When this culture permeates all you do, you’ll find your customers picking up on it and responding to it.
The kind of loyalty that leads to significant repeat business and positive word-of-mouth referrals is not achieved through ISO certification.