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Managing to Make a Difference by Larry Sternberg

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Chapter 45Exemplify Cultural Values in Employee Orientation

Many organizations make employee orientation a mind-numbing review of the employee handbook. The best managers and organizations avoid that. They focus most of their time instead on helping new employees understand the values and beliefs of the organization, along with the expected behaviors. This approach is engaging. It allows people to decide whether their personal values harmonize with the organization's. It invites them to join emotionally, to get excited about what the organization stands for in the world, and ultimately to make a commitment to enliven those values through their work.

If you have a strong, clearly defined culture, it will not be for everyone. Ritz-Carlton and Zappos, for example, encourage people to opt out immediately if they are not excited about becoming a member. Zappos even offers new employees $2,000 if they wish to opt out.

For this to work, by the way, the description of cultural values cannot be fiction. When employees leave orientation, they experience the culture directly. If the difference between the described culture and the experienced culture is too great, disengagement sets in immediately.

When was the last time you reviewed your orientation and your handbook? Are you proud of the way they express your brand and exemplify your culture?

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