Is Your Organization Humble

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I want to tell you about an organization. Think of it as a case study. It’s a private company with over $1.4 billion in revenue and nearly 6,000 employees globally. Been in business since 1977 and is regularly recognized as a best place to work both in its industry and headquarters location. I think we would agree that this is a very successful company. And one of its core values is humility. 

Have you guessed what company I’m writing about? If you said Kronos, then you’re right.

I’ve had the privilege of working with Kronos for many years. First in my Corporate life as a customer of its products and now as a blogger and consultant. I’m honored to have interviewed members of the company’s senior management team on this blog. But I must say “It’s about time!” that finally, after all these years, Kronos CEO Aron Ain has put the secret to the humble company’s success down on paper. 

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Kronos CEO Aron Ain

WorkInspired: How to Build an Organization Where Everyone Loves to Work” is the story of Kronos. How the company started and where the company is today. What I love about this book is what I love about Kronos – it really is a humble organization. In fact, Ain writes about humility being a company value.

I’m not going to give the book away – you definitely need to pick up a copy and read it for yourself. But I thought his comments about humility were particularly appropriate and create a takeaway for any organization.

Companies can change their culture. Ain talks about humility becoming a company value during a time when the organization was experiencing a lot of change. Personally, I think there are times when organizations forget that as the company is changing, leadership needs to make sure that the company culture and values align with the change.

Define what values mean. Kronos defined humility as “assuming positive intent”. It’s important when the organization establishes values that those values are clearly defined. Don’t make the assumption that every employee holds the same meanings for words. Give employees examples of behaviors that demonstrate a core company value.

Humble isn’t a wimpy word. Ain and the Kronos leadership team make sure that employees understand that humility and “bold” aren’t mutually exclusive terms. Organizational values need to be able to work in concert with each other especially in industries where innovation and speed drive profitability.

Always be positive. Even when things go wrong. Kronos uses humility as a way for employees to hold themselves and others accountable. Will stuff go wrong? Sure, but their expectation is that everyone will model positive behaviors which will benefit working relationships and the company. 

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Now you might be saying to yourself, should we copy the Kronos culture? And the answer is no. But, if your organization is looking for some creative inspiration, what better place to get it than from another well-respected organization. Or get a confirmation that you’re doing the right things. 

For HR professionals who want some insight into how a CEO thinks, this is a book written by a CEO. There’s no shortage of business talk. But if you’ve ever spent 5 minutes with Aron Ain then you know he’s in the people business. And this book is a great example of how human resources has the role of business partner and what they’re able to do.

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