Culture

By: Nabeel Momin

In every class I have taken in business school, Google is mentioned at least once or twice. If asked by a stranger whether any student would be willing to accept a job at Google, I believe an overwhelming majority would be inclined to say “Yes, of course!” So what makes Google special in the eyes of these students and talented employees? It is the culture that has been cultivated by the tech firm through the decades that draws these people to the corporation.

Google, founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, emphasizes a culture similar to that of a startup even though the company has expanded globally. The flat organizational structure, emphasis on cooperation and talent over experience, and a push from organizational leaders promoting new “Googley” innovations from employees promote a great cultural environment that attracts so many fresh graduates to 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway in Mountain View, California ever year.

Though there are many definitions of culture, I believe one definition sticks out to me the most: culture is the “sum of values and rituals which serve as ‘glue’ to integrate the members of the organization.” Following this logic, it makes sense that culture plays an important function in successful businesses because it creates a collectivistic environment in which people share similar beliefs. Culture provides employees with an identity and a sense of belonging, a guide for acceptable and ethical behavior in the workplace, and a reason to have pride in their work for the organization. It is not an aspect of a business that can be fabricated or faked and develops from the starting of the organization when the founders establish the company. It generally changes as the organization adapts to the changing business environment and defines its core values.

In class, we discussed the dimensions of organizational culture that help a corporation differentiate from another corporation. These dimensions include level of independence, variety of tasks, time horizon orientation, etc. However, there are some basic components of a great corporate culture that we didn’t discuss in class. According to John Coleman’s article in the Harvard Business Review, these include vision, values, practices, people, narrative, and place. A vision articulates the purpose of an organization and is representative of the beliefs of its’ founding fathers. A company’s values guide employees on an ideal path to achieve this vision, defining acceptable behaviors. Practices are the method through which a company carries through with its values. Given a vision, values, and the practice of these values, people serve as a bridge to connect the three and reinforce the existing culture within an organization. According to the article, the ability to unearth the unique history of an organization and develop it into a narrative is an essential element of culture.” Lastly, the place in which the organization is located, for example, tech companies in the Silicon Valley, helps to reinforce the culture existing within the organization. These 6 attributes provide a firm foundation and are imperative to either forming a culture within an organization or reshaping an existing culture. As a result, a corporation should look at these 6 factors when evaluating their culture.

From a personal standpoint, it is important to me to look the culture of an organization before joining because it helps me determine whether I will be a good fit for the company. Often times, companies state that they are looking for talented employees that will fit into their culture. However, it is important for these same employees to apply to jobs in which they will fit and in which they will be the most comfortable. According to a recent study by Randstad, approximately 67% of employees believe that culture matters and is very important in an organization. This is especially evident when considering the list of 2014’s best multinational workplaces: Google, SAS Institute, Microsoft, Marriott, and American Express, just to name a few. What do these companies have in common? Culture.

 

Sources:

Coleman, J. (2013, May 6). Six Components of a Great Corporate Culture. Retrieved March 24, 2015, from https://hbr.org/2013/05/six-components-of-culture

The World’s Best Multinational Workplaces. (2014, January 1). Retrieved March 30, 2015, from http://www.greatplacetowork.com/best-companies/worlds-best-multinationals/the-list

Watkins, M. (2013, May 15). What Is Organizational Culture? And Why Should We Care? Retrieved March 24, 2015, from https://hbr.org/2013/05/what-is-organizational-culture/

What Motivates Me

By: Nabeel Momin

As a business major concentrating in finance, I am often questioned about my decision to pursue a career in the non-profit industry. With a more lucrative alternative in banking or consulting, it confuses many of my peers that I am willing to walk away from hundred of thousands of dollars. However, money is not my motivation. To me, making the world a better place motivates me more than money every can.

I want to be a change agent, to do things that matter – not to just a few people, but to billions. Right now, half the world’s population lives on less than two dollars a day. At the same time, the ubiquity of cell phones is breaking down information barriers, NGOs such as the Gates Foundation and the Aga Khan Foundation are redefining the role of civil societies in international development, and the rising tides of emerging economies are lifting boats of countless families. The confluence of these events means that my generation has an opportunity to finally rid the world of systemic poverty, and I want to be a part of the solution.

My own personal history fuels my passion. Only 25 years ago, my family was firmly rooted in generational poverty. My grandfather owned a small farm in rural India passed down from generations and that was the source of livelihood for a family of ten. Through a combination of luck, hard work, community support, and risk taking, my father has made us middle class Americans. While many families have made such transformations, countless others in all corners of the world, including my village, are still stuck in the cycle of poverty.

I believe I can help change this cycle because of this passion. Progressing through college, I have learned that it is much easier to do what you love – from taking classes that interest me to joining organizations that may be irrelevant to finance. This is especially embodied in my studies as I’ve taken courses that have ranged from finance to art history out of pure interest and enjoyment. As a result, my reasoning for going into the non-profit sector falls in this same progression. I am positive I will love my job because I enjoy making an impact on people’s lives.

According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the three keys to strong work motivation lie in the three Ms – mastery, membership, and meaning. Of these three, meaning is the most important to me. In order to increase employee engagement and decrease absenteeism, employers must reinforce the impact of the work they perform and align it to the visions and goals of the company. This is beneficial to non-profits, but even more so to for-profit institutions.

In the non-profit sector, giving to others and seeing the impact they have made boosts happiness. This is also supported by an Accenture study looking at employee engagement in the nonprofit sector. As seen in the figure below, making a difference provides meaning both to highly engaged and somewhat less meaning to disengaged employees. The opportunity to change someone’s life pushes individuals in non-profits to come to work every day and enjoy what they do. I believe this will push me as well, more than any job in a for-profit organization.

Untitled

This is not to say that I shun those that choose to work at for-profits, nor do I claim that these people lack the motivation to succeed. In fact, there are a variety of things that motivate people. I respect people that work in for-profits, as they are using their motivation to achieve their goals while I use mine to achieve my goals.

References:

Kanter, R. (2013, October 23). Three Things that Actually Motivate Employees. Retrieved February 27, 2015, from https://hbr.org/2013/10/three-things-that-actually-motivate-employees/

Snyder, D. (2012, January 1). Increasing Employee Engagement in the Nonprofit Sector. Retrieved February 27, 2015, from http://www.accenture.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/PDF/Accenture-Increased-Employee-Engagement-Online-View.pdf