Inspiring Thoughts from EAC

What Will You Be Planting?

Next month, I will have the opportunity to present about Talent Development at the Michigan Bankers Association BEST conference. Since spring will be here soon, I’m working on an analogy of preparing a garden and developing people.

Couple today’s employment market with rapidly changing technology and regulations and you could fail to achieve your bank’s goals. Using the analogy of gardening, this session explores the following ideas:

– Prepare the soil; what you need to do before you hire someone.
– Choose the right plant; once the candidate is selected, how to help your new hire flourish.
– Nurture your crop; a plan for long lasting performance and job success.

This post will focus on step 1.

Preparing the soil.

According to, corporate culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. Corporate culture is rooted in an organization’s goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to labor, customers, investors, and the greater community.

The word, “culture”, derives from Latin for “cultivation of soil”. We know different plants do best in different soil.  For example, Rosemary is an herb that does best in dry, sandy soil. Mint will do well in heavy clay soil. Basil may be a good choice for a container garden using potting soil.  When you are about to hire, one important, yet often over looked question is: do you have the right plant (employee) for your soil (culture)?

Examining your culture to ensure a good fit, makes for long term employment success. You may consider some kind of an assessment.  A Google search revealed the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) developed by Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn is a validated research method to assess organizational culture.

Considerable research was involved in developing the OCAI. Professors Robert Quinn and Kim Cameron developed the model of the Competing Values Framework which consists of four Competing Values that correspond with four types of organizational culture.

Assess your current organizational culture.

By simply observing the physical make up of your environment, You can get a good understanding of your current organizational culture . Pretend for a moment that this is the first time you’ve entered your building.  What do you see?  What impression does it make on visitors?  Ask several others to do the same and compare your results.

Next, interview your employees in small groups. It is just as important during these interviews to observe the behaviors and interaction patterns of people, as it is to hear what they say about the culture.

You then use the findings from the first two exercises to survey your employees. Consider a tool like SurveyMonkey® to send surveys to your employees.  You may be surprised by the information you collect.  If you decide to go this route, giving a recap of findings and actions taken is important.  Nothing destroys credibility with people faster than asking for input and not taking any action.

I’d be interested to know what you think about this analogy or if you’ve tried any of these methods to assess your company culture to ensure a fit in the selection process.

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