515-223-5119 info@ineda.com

Mark Othmer, Nebraska Field Director, marko@ineda.com

Every business, whether intentional or not, has a culture. Company culture is defined as the shared values, attributes, and characteristics of an organization. It is evident in the way an organization’s employees interact with each other, the values they hold, and the decisions they make. Company culture encompasses a variety of elements, including work environment, company mission, leadership style, values, ethics, expectations, and goals.

A company’s culture may be expressly and deliberately cultivated, or it may simply result from the accumulation of decisions made over time. With a strong company culture, employees understand the expected behaviors and outcomes and act accordingly. Some companies have a team-based culture that emphasizes employee participation on all levels, while other businesses have a culture where formal, traditional, or hierarchical management is valued. When you work at a company with a traditional management style, your job responsibilities will be clearly defined, but there may not be opportunities to advance without going through a formal promotion or transfer process. At a more casual workplace, employees often have the opportunity to take on new projects, and additional roles, as time permits.

What a company plans for their culture is not always the one that is perceived by their employees or customers.

Oftentimes in today’s farm equipment world, a multi-location business becomes the accumulation of many former smaller business groups that, over time, had developed their own culture for each of the integrated locations. The new multi-location company will have a major challenge ahead of itself to integrate employees of a different company culture into the planned culture of the new organization.

This is not always successful with each employee. Sometimes the new company culture is not compatible with an employee of an integrated or merged business, and a different direction for the employee will be necessary, whether being transferred to a different location or termination. Unfortunately, in today’s world of tight labor markets, termination can cause another set of problems, but managers of the organization will need to weigh which is more important: creating the right company culture or finding and training a new employee.

I feel that I speak with some experience on this issue, although it was many years ago. I was part of an operation that purchased a second location but failed to realize the culture differences between the two organizations. I blindly believed that it would be easy to instill operating procedures, employee actions, customer reactions, and business processes that I had used for years in my organization. I soon realized that the employees of the new business location were accustomed to working under the watchful eye of a supervisor and expected the supervisor to make all decisions on day-to-day operations. My organization had discarded that mode of operation years ago and tried to explain to the the employees that they were allowed to make decisions and changes in their daily routines and operation within a set of guidelines we provided from the management team. Some employees thrived in this new management style; some not so much. In this situation, there is often a problem with employees reverting to old procedures and encouraging fellow employees to do the same, causing conflict and indecisions. Obviously, this would derail the planned company culture, and more so, affect the perceived company culture.

Perceived company culture is a whole different animal, and once again, after walking into dealerships for nearly 25 years, perceived company culture is immediately identified. It’s unfortunate that someone can walk into a business and feel uncomfortable about being there, but I can attest that this can be true in almost any type of business, including equipment dealerships. If the team is not accepting of the planned company culture, the perceived culture becomes the identifying factor and will unquestionably cause conflict and confusion in operations and customer relations, not to mention employee productivity and satisfaction. It is vital for for planned company culture and perceived company culture to be cohesive. This is a big challenge in today’s farm equipment business world, as many organizations are an accumulation of former smaller dealerships or groups of dealerships. It is very important for managers to keep a watchful eye on the culture of each of their locations, making sure their planned culture and the perceived culture are one and the same.

I’m sure you will be hearing more from INEDA on company culture in the future. Our regional workshops on workforce development coming up in November in Ankeny, IA and Grand Island, NE will include more information on the issue of company culture and how you, as a manager, can boost the culture of your team.

Nebraska Sales Tax Spotlight

Q: Do farm tractors, combines and implements have to abide by axle weight limitations identified by the Nebraska Department of Transportation?

A: Mostly no. INEDA and several other organizations worked to pass LB977 in the 2016 session of the Nebraska Unicameral. This bill provided for a complete exemption from axle load limitations on farm tractors and implements being driven on or towed on Nebraska roadways, as long as they are not on the Interstate Highway System. There is an exception, though. Local municipalities and counties are allowed to restrict travel of such equipment on sections of roadway that are vulnerable during certain times of the year—specifically, during spring thaw when road foundations may become compromised. This restriction is limited in length of time to 180 days. Also, load limitations on bridges and culverts must still be maintained.