Thursday, February 26, 2015

corporate culture shock

Company culture answers the question of why we do things this way here. It forms an organic social contract defining what we believe in, how we behave and who belongs. It's also incredibly valuable, see Amazon's purchase of Zappos and appropriation of their employee policies. It cannot be controlled or managed top down because it belongs to the employees. It can however be inspired and propagated by careful communication about company goals and aligning the culture to the overall business strategy.

Craft beer business culture prioritizes development of the innovative product, relating to customers via service, outreach and marketing, and controlling the risks of production to attain operational excellence.

Operational excellence in safety, quality and consistency are more elusive and understandably tertiary concerns. Sales and stability in revenue determine a brewery's success more than safety and quality during initial growth.

As breweries become established, these concerns move to the forefront, especially in larger production operations. The risks are higher and insurance more expensive.  Balancing the safety, quality, and consistency needs of the operation as a whole and retaining employee determined company culture easily becomes combative.

Especially so when the topic of medical and legal recreational (state law) marijuana comes up. Safety often is strung up as the reason for mandatory drug testing. Clearly everyone wants a safe environment while at work. Being under the influence at work is not appropriate to the vast majority. Also most agree that it is reasonable to require drug testing after major accidents. Yet many find themselves in the independent craft beer industry because of the embrace of personal responsibility and self policing that is an essential component of a productive company culture while creating an inebriating product.

33% corporate beer still tokes
In the case of marijuana, the levels of THC stay in the body much longer than the effects. Clumsy tests that don't differentiate between getting high last Saturday and being stoned on a forklift Monday morning and constant threat regimes of random screenings rob employees of their right to enjoy legal, state tax revenue earning weed on their own time. Such as the case with most rules, the extent to which a company enforces a drug policy largely determines the degree to which employees feel their privacy and personal life are invaded.

Craft beer is largely comprised of small independent companies deciding for themselves how to enforce quality and safety policies. As they grow and change they will have to determine what values are essential to employee engagement and productivity. Companies only pay for the hours employees are at work, how much should they determine behavior off the clock?

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