I originally posted this five years ago (literally). It's remarkable how slow change happens . . .
Last week's Ad Age had an article by Lorraine Lockhart entitled "Want to Retain Talent? Time to Appoint a Chief Culture Officer". Lorraine knows a little something about agency cultures. She has run a very well respected consulting group for the past 20 years. That group helps clients conduct agency reviews to identify those agencies best suited to help a client grow their business through advertising and marketing.
The idea of culture defining an organization is simple. It's also simple to understand that a companies' long term success is directly related to the relevance and impact of that culture on the employees and clients (customers) of that company. What's not simple is to understand why more companies, including agencies and corporations . . . large and small . . . privately and publicly held, make so little effort to create and proactively maintain a healthy culture that fosters the health and growth of their employees. Culture is the lifeblood of any/every corporation.
Lorraine suggests a new C-level executive called a Chief Culture Officer "to develop greater organizational and cultural intelligence and work to create the safe havens where agency people can thrive." What that means is create an environment where employees are respected and their professional and personal growth is encouraged and fostered. That environment leads to happier employees who stay with a company longer, benefiting the clients. Employee retention and growth is directly related to client retention and growth . . . and to the employers overall health and long term well-being.
In my experience, the most repeated reasons employees are disengaged and performing at less than their potential is the culture in which they work. It's micro-management, or it's disorganized workflow, or lack of training that frustrates employees. Sometimes it's simply a lack of respect. Money is an issue, but often not at or near the top.
Creating a culture to nourish and enhance employees seems like a good idea, so why do so few accomplish it? Likely because so few actually focus on it, or make the initial effort to improve. Looking in the mirror can be difficult. I honest think that most don't think they need it . . . or "everything's just fine"!
In today's world of multi-tasking, running "lean" companies (read too few workers) and longer work weeks, to most companies(it seems) devoting the time, energy and money necessary to create a maintain a healthy culture seems frivolous. That lack of culture is why I continually receive resumes from top performers, who simply are not engaged with their employer, who they perceive as not caring.
Whether a Chief Culture Officer is hired or not, there are few companies that couldn't benefit from more focus on a healthy and sustainable culture. Lorraine is certainly correct about lack of focus on culture. The CCO will have little positive effect if the rest of the c-Suite does not embrace the notion.
Let's face it, from any companies' perspective, it's employees are its most valuable asset. They need to be supported and helped to grow professionally for tbe benefit of the employer and their client. If that happens, the employee will grow personally as well . . . and stay with that employer longer, contributing additional institutional knowledge and stability . . . leading to happier, more loyal clients.
It seems so simple . . .