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Organization Culture and talent

"Top Management Lies" by Kathy Sierra, headrush.

LMAO. Kathy's list of "top management lies" pretty much captures the typical thinking inside organizations.  Here are a few of them that most of us know but put up with. Why?


"My job is to be a buffer between you and upper management."

"Your job is to make me look good to upper management."

"We value your criticism and ideas."

"If you're so smart, how come I'm a manager and you're not?"

"We set reasonable deadlines, and we never underbid our projects... so our employees don't need to work weekends."

"Since when is Saturday part of the weekend?"

The downside of all of this is, "Co-workers hoard their best ideas".

"Catherine Connelly, assistant professor of human resources &management at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University, has found that employees often protect their knowledge and will even take steps to hide it from co-workers

Considering that companies regard knowledge acquired on the job as proprietary and implement expensive knowledge management systems to ensure those in the know share with others, this behaviour is bad for business, says Connelly.

The reluctance to share produces a contagious tendency to hide important knowledge and as a result productivity suffers, she adds.

Connelly found that employees are more willing to share with
people they trust and who treat them fairly. "When organizations emphasize positive relationships and trust among employees, knowledge sharing will become part of the culture," explains Connelly.

Connelly and her colleagues David Zweig of the University of
Toronto and Jane Webster of Queen's University will present their findings at the annual conference of The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology in Dallas May 5-7.

Clues you've been a victim of knowledge hiding:

  • You ask a colleague for help, and they say
  • "I'm sorry. My boss doesn't want this to be public right now."
  • Nothing. They ignore your request.
  • "I don't know. Maybe someone else can help you out."

Why people engage in knowledge hiding:

  • they feel that an injustice has been done to them
  • they are distrustful of co-workers or management
  • they are retaliating against someone else's behavior toward them
  • the organizational climate encourages secrecy, not sharing
  • they can get away with it

How to encourage knowledge sharing:

  • emphasize positive relationships and trust among employees
  • explain the mutual benefits of having colleagues share their knowledge
  • treat all workers fairly and respectfully
  • make knowledge sharing part of the culture"

On the flip-side, here are some ideas to consider before you even take that job. 

From Management Issues, by Patricia Soldati.

Finding an organisation worth working for

"Sadly, many so-called "top" companies today would probably flunk a 'spiritual audit'.

Hidden behind the endless talk of organizational values are profit-driven, high-pressure labor camps trading paychecks - and diminishing perks – for your soul. All of which means that uncovering a company's corporate culture is a critical task for today's job searcher. As important as the job itself.

Three Steps To Uncovering Cultural Truth
You may never completely know a corporate culture until you have worked at the company for a while, but you can get darn close with the right kind of research. And do be pro-active. If
there is an organization that you have even a inkling that you might like to work for – take them through this three-step process.

(1) Know your own cultural values. Use the list of questions below to create your own prioritized "cultural checklist".

  • Community Spirit/Mutual Respect
  • Work-Life Balance
  • Open, Two-Way Communication
  • Atmosphere
  • Performance
  • Inclusion vs. Exclusion
  • Rewards and Recognition
  • Physical Environment
  • Groups and Networks
  • History

(2) Research the company's culture. The obvious sources are the company's annual report and website, but take these with a grain of salt. These are institutional views used to "woo" shareholders, clients and potential employees.
For greater objectivity, talk to company employees, or try or

(3) If you're asked to an interview, arrive early - unannounced if possible - and spend time observing how current employees interact with each other, how they are dressed, and their level of courtesy and professionalism. During your interview, ask questions from the grid above to get a feel for the corporate culture.

If you get a chance to meet with employees, ask one or more of these questions:

1. What 5 words would you use to describe your company?
2. What's it really like to work here?
3. What skills and characteristics does the company value?
4. Do you feel as though you know what is expected of you?
5. How do people from different departments interact?
6. What behaviors get rewarded in this company?
7. How effectively does the company communicate to its employees? Your decision to work for a company is a very big deal. Look beyond the job and the paycheck - and make sure it's a match worth
your commitment."

Additional information can also be found using the new blog search engines, technorati, yahoo, google, icerocket, et al. and tagging services like

On the other hand, if your organization is seriously trying to connect information and ideas to employees, prospects, and stakeholders so that they can positively contribute, check out Ideascape.