By Mike Hilty
Mike Hilty is a student in Roosevelt University’s Training & Development Program.
Every year, I try to watch all the movies nominated for Best Picture for the Academy Awards. Some movies I have no interest in watching (looking at you, “Captain Phillips”), some are a pleasant surprise (“Her” and “Nebraska”), and some are a little disappointing (ugh, “Gravity”).
For me, the most surprising was “The Wolf of Wall Street.” If you have three hours to spare, I’d recommend checking it out. For those who don’t have time, it’s about a Wall Street stock broker named Jordan Belfort. Jordan created a brokerage firm aimed at recommending shady stocks. Forbes magazine described Jordan as a kind of twisted Robin Hood who takes from the rich and gives to himself and his merry band of brokers (Khalaf, 1991).
Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Paramount Pictures photo.
From a business standpoint, this movie is a good lesson in the importance of organizational culture. Although Jordan trained his employees to do shady business, these practices helped instill a culture of assuring clients and pushing them to purchase recommended stocks. Jordan was charismatic and persistent. These two dominant traits directly translated into the culture he wanted for his company. Similarly, trainers need to be mindful of the culture they’re establishing, especially since many practitioners learn on the job, where the values and assumptions of the dominant culture guide behavior. (Bunch, 2007, pg 155).
A trainer’s job is to not only teach the skills necessary for being successful at a job, but also to establish a relationship with the culture and values of the organization. The more entwined values and culture are with training, the more likely employees will be successful and remain at an organization long-term. Culture can be a force for good (look at non-profits) and a force for bad (Enron, Stratton Oakmont, and any number of companies in legal trouble) but it all starts with how these people are trained.
References: Bunch, K. (2007). Training Failure as a consequence of Organizational Culture. Human Resource Development Review. Vol 6. 142-163. Khalaf, R. (1991). Steaks, Stocks – What’s the Difference? Forbes Magazine.
What do you think?
What does corporate culture mean to you? Is corporate culture taught, acquired, or should recruiters find people who would already fit into the corporate culture in the first place? Do you know of any corporate cultures you’re jealous of?