Ignoring Corporate Culture Is a Big Mistake

A cartoon of a man "flying" and saying, "Once you've mastered this you can move on to something more challenging like changing corporate culture."

All too many business leaders ignore the importance of corporate culture because they think it’s unmeasurable, irrelevant, too “soft” or impossible to change anyway…all to their peril.

Corporate culture can be measured, it matters and, with a concerted effort, workplace culture can be changed and shaped to align with your business strategy.

Before you consider trying to re-shape your organizational culture, you need to understand your current cultural and strategic realities. Only then can you effectively design a roadmap for corporate culture change. There are a variety of reliable organizational culture assessments that can help you make the seemingly intangible tangible. Do your research and find one that will suit your needs in terms of cost, validity, ease of distribution and analysis. Just be sure to make positive changes as a result of what you learn.

Why does workplace culture matter? It is defined as the way things get done in a business from day to day. It reflects the norms of behavior within the organization. If your culture is out of alignment with your business strategy, tensions develop, employees disengage, productivity suffers and, eventually, your bottom line will show the strain. Our organizational alignment research at 410 companies across eight industries revealed that cultural factors account for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies in terms of profitability, growth, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and leadership effectiveness.

So corporate culture is not just a squishy HR thing. It can have a “hard” impact on your business success. The bottom line for skeptical executives is that strong corporate cultures result in improved financial results.

How, then, do you go about changing or improving your cultural environment? First, you need to use a proven change model that takes you step-by-step through convincing your workforce that the change is critical to business success as well as in their individual best interests. The rationale must be compelling, and it must be openly presented with plenty of forums for questions and discussion. It is always easier to stick with the status quo than make the effort to operate differently. Make sure the desired behaviors are modeled at the highest levels, monitored, recognized and celebrated. All employees must be encouraged and held accountable.

We agree that cultural change can be a challenge. But there are many business situations that demand it. Just think of when mergers or acquisitions take place. Without a way to blend the best of two cultures, there will always be a gulf between the two ways of doing things. Only with true commitment to the goal of successful integration through cultural change will the companies become one.

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

 

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