TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.—Every company has a culture, but whether or not that culture is attractive to prospective employees is another matter.
That was the underlying theme of a panel Aug. 2 at the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars that focused on culture and talent retention. Jason Slusher, executive culture consultant at the Great Place to Work Institute, said the key for companies isn't just to have a culture, but to have an intentional culture.
“All of your companies have a culture,” Slusher said. “It may not be the one you want; it may be unintentional, but you have one. What you want to do is create an intentional culture. You want to be intentional about who it is you want to be, how you behave, the values you want and the trust you want, and you want that to drive your business strategy.
“I know companies that get rid of people because they're not the right cultural fit. They're not speaking to people the right way. They're not creating that team atmosphere or that family feeling.”
And it has to start at the top. Slusher said culture isn't something a company can outsource to another department. If the top leaders aren't on board, the culture won't be there.
Fortunately for Cooper Standard Automotive Inc., its leadership team understands this. Chairman and CEO Jeff Edwards talked at length about how his executive team helped define the company's mission statement, values and its culture when he took over in 2013. And he stressed that the need to stand out among increasing competition with other industries for top talent is critical.
“I think we all agree, from an automotive industry point of view, this particular topic is near and dear to our hearts because we've all grown up in the industry,” Edwards said. “We feel passionate about its success, but when you stop and think about competition within the industry, that's one dimension. The other dimension that we all deal with is the competition across different industries.”