3 Books on Business Culture for your Summer Reading List

Summer reading

Margaret Wheatley said:

“The tension of our times is that we want our organizations to behave as living systems, but we only know how to treat them as machines.

These days, a different ideal for organizations is surfacing. We want organizations to be adaptive, flexible, self-renewing, resilient, learning, intelligent – attributes found only in living systems.”

Relationships activate information. The more access people have to one another, the greater the opportunities in the organization. Workplaces organized so that people get their work done while also maximizing the opportunity to have access to and collaborate with anyone also increase their ability to collaborate with customers.

Culture and an understanding of human relationships are the secret to thriving workplaces. In the words of business guru Peter Drucker, culture eats strategy for breakfast.

3 Books on Business Culture for your Summer Reading List

Under the Hood: Fire up and Fine-tune Your Employee Culture, Stan Slap explains the difference between understanding your employees and understanding your employee culture:

Why does an employee culture really resist change?

What does it care about more than money?

Why does it respond to leadership differently than to management?

How does it talk to itself, and what does it mean when it won’t talk to you?

Why are company values the most dangerous threat to gaining its trust?

“Successful implementation (of strategy) starts with being able to enroll you’re employee culture in fierce support of the strategy. If you can’t, and you think any strategic or performance goal will be successful without the hardcore support of (your culture), you’re building a base camp on Mt. Delusional.”

Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead, Laszlo Bock, an inside look at Google's People Operations practices:

Managers exist to: (a) make tie-breaking decisions (b) coach/train to develop employees (c) care about people's well-being (d) set vision/strategy (e) provide technical advice (f) empower by clearing roadblocks

“We spend more time working than doing anything else in life. It's not right that the experience of work should be so demotivating and dehumanizing.”

The Power of Thanks: How Social Recognition Empowers Employees and Creates a Best Place to Work Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine say social recognition also helps to create engaged workers. They say:

“The mediocre manager likes to think that his or her employees should be grateful to have a job. Perhaps they are, but that attitude has culture management backward. In a well-run company, the organization and the individual manager acting on its behalf harness the power of appreciation not by receiving it, but by giving it to the employees.”

Workplaces with engaged workers are 21% more productive, 22% more profitable, have 41% higher quality, have 48% fewer safety violations, less 37% absenteeism, and 10% higher customer service satisfaction. Fortune 100 Best Places to Work companies have 50-65% less turnover than average. The authors do the math: in a 10,000 employee company, it's possible to reduce the costs associated with turnover (typically 50-150% of a yearly salary) from $41 million to just $4 million a year using social recognition. Employee satisfaction has also proven to correlate with higher shareholder returns.

At work, nothing matters more than being valued and appreciated. By providing a natural way for people to give and receive recognition, the strategies outlined in this book can help HR leaders drive higher levels of engagement and performance. — Adam Grant, Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author.