Interview Dorothea Starke

August 25, 2020

Dorothea Starke is a professional in people & organizational development. She has previously worked in both start-up and corporate environments before. Her mission is to empower people and organizations as a coach, consultant, innovator and enabler. Delband Tamjidi, Associate Consultant at Frazer Jones in Düsseldorf, spoke with Dorothea about corporate culture.  

How can corporate culture function as a differentiating factor for a company?

For me culture means identity. Values are becoming increasingly important in these value-driven times. Values such as sustainability, diversity/anti-racism helps employees identify with, and continue to work for, a company. Culture also as glue: in unpredictable and volatile times like these, company processes, structures and business models change fast; people change jobs more often. Employees need orientation and a strong culture can give them that. 

What is the role of HR when it comes to implementing corporate culture? 
What are the challenges?
Which stakeholders does HR have to interact with regards to corporate culture? 
How important is purpose and priorities to a business? 

Very important. Purpose is the core. In a V.U.C.A World (Volatile. Uncertain. Complex. Ambiguous), purpose is the stable anchor in an always changing corporate environment and is part of a firms DNA. Setting priorities in a complex and dynamic world is in my opinion even more important than setting goals to get things done.  

How does a business embed corporate culture at the very start of an employee’s journey, i.e. from induction on day 1 (or even earlier)? 

It starts with the job description and the way of reaching out to candidates (NOT the employer branding website). It truly reveals what is important for a company (Experience? Personality? Soft skills? Rewards?). Within the recruitment process candidates get to see at a glance how employees are treated in the company, how decisions are made (and how fast), how people-oriented a company is, how innovative a company is, how accessible leaders are, how much a team is involved in management decisions, etc. It does not mean that the process covers it 100%, but there is plenty of information between the lines. Take care of your recruiting! 

Corporate culture and the various generations within a business – how do you address the needs and motivations of different generations within a corporate culture?

I believe that a lived corporate culture is beyond age, cultural background, gender or profession. It describes in the core the image of man, how an organization wants to work together for a shared purpose and how to strive for their vision.  

The role of creating a feeling of safety within a corporate culture – to discuss, what does ‘safety’ look or feel like to an employee to enable high performance to thrive?

I can just answer this on a personal level because psychological safety is highly subjective. For me it means: 

The core of psychological safety is not to be “nice to people” but to bring employees and teams into true ownership and to come into their best sustainable performance.