Is Your Corporate Culture Aligned With Your Strategy?

Cartoon of a man trying to fly by flapping his arms and saying, "Once you're mastered this simple technique, we'll move on to something more challenging like trying to charge your corporate culture."

If you think corporate culture change is hard, try to implement a business strategy that is out of alignment with the organizational culture (how stuff gets done) that currently exists at your workplace.

Many leaders have found out the hard way that it simply can’t happen.

Why? Because an organization’s culture drives the behaviors of those employees you depend upon to execute your strategy. If those assumptions, beliefs and behaviors are not aligned with the activities and intentions that support your strategy, it will be tough sledding. Our organizational alignment research found that culture and strategy alignment account for 71% of the difference between high and low performing organizations in terms of revenue growth, profitability, employee engagement, customer loyalty and leadership effectiveness.

Talent, which accounts for 29% of the difference between high and low performing organizations when aligned with culture and strategy, is the third pillar required for peak performance.

To focus on corporate culture—one of the three critical alignment factors—for the time being, it is germane to wonder if it can in fact be changed at all. Though we agree with the cartoon that culture change is very challenging, we believe that, over time and with focused determination, you can shape your corporate culture to best drive your key strategic initiatives. We call this a “purposeful” culture. And it matters.

A recent Harvard Business School research report described how an effective culture can account for up to half of the differential in performance between organizations in the same business. Our own organizational alignment research further found that cultural factors account for up to 40% of the difference between high and low growth companies. Pretty persuasive statistics.

So how do you go about achieving organizational culture change to best drive your strategy forward?

First it takes leaders who understand that a company’s culture (defined as the way business truly gets done day-by-day) is not just about high performance but also takes into account aspects of company behavior that are uniquely relevant to the organization’s specific strategic goals. For example, should the company be focused more on “risk mitigation” or “embracing risk” to best execute the strategy?  Should the culture foster a “market leader” or “market adopter” mentality?  Should decision-making be “centralized” or decentralized”?  These are all questions that can only be answered vis-à-vis a clear and compelling strategy.

Once the needed culture has been defined to best execute the strategy, leaders must re-shape the current systems, practices and processes to align with the strategic intent to make sure they will encourage, support and sustain desired actions and behavioral change.

Then here are three steps to follow as you shape your corporate culture to drive your strategy forward:

  1. Define the desired cultural environment required to create strategic alignment.
    Make a list of the cultural attributes that are needed for your strategy to succeed and define the behaviors associated with them. If you have determined that you need greater cooperation between departments, better knowledge sharing would be a critical desired behavior. Then Sales and Marketing, for example, will need to improve their interdepartmental communications, foster open discussions, welcome questions and dialogue, share resources and commit to a common goal and aligned success metrics.
  2. Recognize and reward employees who exhibit desired cultural behaviors.
    Show your appreciation in a public forum with specific remarks about how that valued behavior contributes to the company goal. Perhaps Marketing noticed an uptick in interest in a competitor’s product. Instead of holding on to that information until the next quarterly meeting, they went to Sales so they could be prepared to discuss alternative solutions with their customers.
  3. Monitor and track daily behaviors.
    When your employees behave in a manner that is aligned with the environment you desire, share your enthusiasm for the change. When they are not, you may need to intervene with training or resources to make sure employees understand the importance of their role and are committed to changing for the betterment of all.

Whether you believe that corporate culture or strategy is more important does not really matter. What counts is that you understand that they are inextricably connected.

To learn more about defining an aligned and high performing culture, download How to Build a Purposeful and Aligned Corporate Culture.

 

Comments are closed.

LSA custom designed a Management Development program that is absolutely “on target” for our technical managers. Their facilitator has done a superb job delivering the material in a way that is fast paced, highly interactive, and fun. She presents practical solutions to the people situations that our managers face every day. I regard LSA as an excellent partner that understands our business needs and a virtual member of our HR department.

Judith Onton
Vice President Human Resources

Avon’s success is dependent on strong relationships among our Customers, Representatives, Associates, and outside resources we hire to help us meet our business objectives. We were very pleased with the results from working with LSA Global to design and facilitate a custom program for our events management team. LSA demonstrated responsiveness, flexibility, and an innovative approach to working with us.

Deanna Rudnitsky
Senior Manager, HR Destiny Sales Region

LSA’s Employee Engagement Consulting and Survey work has provided critical visibility into: how well our people are holding up under the general economic environment, as well as, the specific challenges that face biotechnology companies in their efforts to discover and develop new medicines; their level of alignment and commitment to XOMA’s Vision and mission critical strategies; how leadership practices and management systems support an environment that engender commitment, and the specific actions that our leaders can take to improve on areas that are important to our people. I highly recommend LSA’s employee engagement solutions.

Chris Wells
Vice President, HR and IT

LSA Global’s consultant brought a fresh perspective to our behavioral based interviewing strategy for two key executive positions we needed to fill, and their consultant helped us develop questions that produced a much deeper understanding of candidates’ capabilities. I am confident that the two new executives joining our organization have the right skills to add significant value. Throughout the process LSA was also very responsive in dealing with short lead time requests.

Because of the unique nature of our business, Excel is a core application in our accounting organization. After three attempts to find an Excel consultant who is capable of helping our finance team integrate advanced applications into our work processes we found LSA and Alex. He was not only a “Real” Excel expert but was masterful in helping us identify where to use Excel applications in our processes to increase our group’s efficiency.

SPO Partners & Co
Kim Silva, CFO

LSA helped us design and deliver a blended learning solution for our leaders to help drive our growth plans in a way that aligned with our specific culture and values. LSA understood our business, had deep expertise in the content areas, tailored the programs to fit our specific needs, and delivered great results. They constantly strive to deliver business impact and align their solutions with our business initiates, culture, and performance management systems. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to take their leaders to the next level.”

Beth A. Taylor
Vice President of Human Resources

Thoratec

What a refreshing change from the half-baked psycho-babble you normally get from “training” organizations. LSA gives you the assistance you need to define and reach your goal, and then they give you a results driven plan – not just a temporary fix. They are great to work with, and even more importantly, they “get it!”

David Fiano
Vice President Human Resources

I had been working with LSA for many years with my prior company. Currently, I’m with a company who hadn’t done much basic management skills training. After identifying and presenting a program recently, our managers are excited and talking in the halls about the great experience. LSA saves us time in delivering the right training for our needs.

Phyllis Moracco
HR Director

VNUS Medical has been very pleased with the effective management development programs that LSA Global has delivered for us over the last four years. The programs have been universally facilitated by experienced and best in class instructors. The knowledge gained by our management team has been put into practice very quickly. VNUS is very happy to be working in partnership with LSA because they consistently deliver excellent programs that receive exceptional feedback from our management team.

Cindee Van Vleck
Director Human Resources

We partnered with LSA to pilot a customized behavioral interviewing program to help ensure that we continue to hire the best and brightest as we continue to rapidly scale. LSA’s ability to understand our business and our unique culture combined with their desire to ensure that the best practices framework truly fits our performance environment and is highly adopted by our people is a real blessing. Most other firms want to just ‘give you training.’ Not LSA, they are focused on helping me hit our hiring forecasts and attract A players.

Jennifer Remling
Director of Global Recruiting

AKQA

LSA provided top notch solutions right when and how we needed them. They exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and cost standpoint. I recommend them to anyone looking for a true business partner in the Learning and Development arena. The breadth and depth of their expertise has helped us hit tight deadlines across multiple projects.

Fortune 500 Financial Services Company
Director of Infrastructure & Technology

We partnered with LSA Global to help us invest in our people in the areas of performance coaching, diversity, and inclusion. They focused on helping us succeed and were very flexible in meeting our specific needs. LSA Global exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and value standpoint. I would recommend LSA Global to anyone looking for a true business partner.

Anita Luckinbill
Director, Human Resources

Congratulations on your pro-activity in establishing this program and developing such an effective New Employee Orientation course.

Farhat Ali
President and Chief Executive Office

Fujitsu

Our company engaged LSA to do a specialized “train the trainer” program, and the consultant’s performance outdid our exceptionally high standards for such a program. Very crucial to the success of this program was the work done upfront to discuss our needs and to interview key members of our organization so that the program specifically met our goals. Our facilitators continue to comment on the success of the program. Thanks also for the follow-up.

Frank Abbott
Chief Financial Officer

We consider LSA Global our outsourced learning and development partner. We worked closely with LSA to customize a management development program to meet our growing business needs. I would highly recommend LSA to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions.

Terri Wright-Scheer
Vice President Human Resources

What a personal and professional pleasure it has been to Partner with LSA. They are truly a strategic partner with Wyse. For more than 5 years, LSA has been engaged in delivering various training and development solutions for Wyse, from custom on-site programs targeting specific core competencies, to working individually with clients to build job skills, and offering invaluable services to me and my team as we continue to build our learning programs. LSA’s representatives do more than sell a product, they offer a full service solution: they understand our business, our strategic initiatives, and the needs of our customers.

Jeff Rangel
Director of HR

Evaluate your Performance

Toolkits

Toolkits

Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.

More

Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.

More

Whitepapers

Whitepapers

Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.

More

Methodology

Methodologies

First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.

More

Blogs

Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.

More

Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.

More