After recently attending an executive coaching session in which our second-year full-time MBA students were asked to create a value chart in order of priority for family, work, community and self, the emphasis placed on “values” got me thinking. While a large proportion of the current professional population has been affected in some way by the arduous job market, how important are values to job seekers?
At a MBA Career Services and Employers Alliance student-lead panel, full-time MBA students from St. Thomas and the U of M cited various items they consider prior to accepting a job offer. Of those, professional advancement, opportunity to learn and be challenged as well as sharing the same values rated much higher than a competitive salary. There are a few things any job seeker should think about before accepting a position (or even applying for one).
If you want to make your head spin, read the “company culture” definitions submitted on Wikipedia. The “experts” can’t agree on a definition. Wikipedia even includes a “disclaimer” that the subject is subjective. Company culture is difficult to define, and there is more than one definition. However you define it, when an employee is asked about their company’s culture, organizations want the response to be positive since we are usually talking about the same thing – how we as individuals feel about and describe what it is like to work at our company.
Organizations often try to “define” their company culture. The ones I most often see have some gobbledygook about “work hard, play hard” or “work/life balance” or “Customers are #1”. Blah, blah, blah. Most of these efforts are simply a marketing spin. Lipstick on a pig.
Forget trying to define it. I believe if you truly want your employees to feel positive about the culture three things are essential: elements, alignment and consistency.
By Katherine Kirchner, a student in the Full-time UST MBA Program
What is my way of causing change? How will I make an impact in society and leave this world a better place? These are some of the questions that I had when I began the full-time UST MBA program. The UST Symposium on Social Entrepreneurship, held on campus last month, provided insights to these questions and how I can find meaningful work and make an impact. More than 100 attendees and 12 social entrepreneurs came together to talk about the innovative ways that they are working to tackle social change.
The speakers were engaging and left me with the following messages:
As an adult leader, I stayed more in the background, helping to make things run smoothly.
I spent the last week volunteering at camp. Not just any camp, but the Boy Scouts of America’s National Youth Leadership Training program, locally called Grey Wolf.
This week-long course provides the participant an opportunity to live, work, and play in a large model-troop environment. A Grey Wolf troop is led by the Senior Patrol Leader, and each patrol (of which the participants are members) has a Troop Guide to provide counseling and mentoring. Adult leadership is present and visible, but the troop is run by a well-trained youth staff, who have all previously completed the same Grey Wolf experience.
When I was a youth, I attended this camp and served on staff for several years. When the opportunity arose to come back and serve as an adult staff member, I was excited at the opportunity to give back. As noted above, in Scouting a troop is boy-led. This meant that as an adult leader, I had to learn and use different techniques for getting things done. These skills can work as well in the workplace as they do in the camp environment.
Medtronic Co-founder Earl Bakken was inspired by patients to create the company's mission, which is now an integral part of Medtronic culture.
Last week Jack Militello, a management professor here at the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business and director of our Executive UST MBA program was interviewed by the Star Tribune about mission statements, and specifically, how half a century after Earl Bakken set out Medtronic’s mission statement, it remains relevant. Few companies can boast of a mission statement so enduring, said Militello. More from the article:
“A good mission statement should tell you what the company wants to be, not what it is today,” he said. “Medtronic’s statement does that.”
Militello says corporate mission statements didn’t gain traction until the go-go 1980s following the publication of the bestselling business book “In Search of Excellence” by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman. Publicizing a corporate mission, a kind of higher business calling, became de rigueur.
But just because these statements are trendy doesn’t necessarily mean they’re effective. “A lot of mission statements are BS,” Militello said bluntly.
People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it.
What you do simply serves as the proof of what you believe.
– Simon Sinek
“In 2009, Simon Sinek released the book Start With Why — a synopsis of the theory he has begun using to teach others how to become effective leaders and inspire change”—important skills for any businessperson. Last fall he gave a TED talk that was just posted on-line. (TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.)
Sinek’s ideas sound simple but that are herd to put into practice.
The UST mission is printed on the back of my business card. It states that the university “educates students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully to advance the common good.”
Ethics is integrated into the curriculum across all of our courses in the MBA program, and many prospective students I meet with have mentioned to me that UST’s strong reputation for ethical business education is one of the factors that attracted them to our program. Recently, a group of Harvard Business school graduates created the “MBA Oath,” meant to address the proliferation of ethics scandals during the past several years.