Do Employees Understand Your Desired Culture?

Do Employees Understand Your Desired Culture?
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Do Employees Understand Your Desired Culture?
If you ask your employees to describe your corporate culture, you may be surprised by their answers.  If there is a disconnect between how you want your workforce to think and behave and how they actually treat each other and get work done on a daily basis you, and your business, are in for trouble.

The larger the gap between your current and desired workplace culture, the larger the gap between your ability to execute your business and talent strategies.

The Importance of Cultural Alignment at Work
We know that cultural alignment at work has a quantifiable impact on business and people performance.

  • 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 industry.
  • Our organizational alignment research found that cultural factors account for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies in terms of revenue growth, profitability, customer loyalty, leadership effectiveness, and employee engagement.

What Is Corporate Culture?
We define culture as how things truly get done in an organization. It can be measured by understanding the way people think, behave, and work.  This includes the known and unspoken corporate values and assumptions that drive key business practices and behaviors.

Corporate culture is often set in large part by its leaders.  In fact, how leaders define ,model, and align their corporate culture has become a critical variable in defining the success and failure of their corporate strategies.

How Organizational Culture Can Work Against Corporate Strategy
Companies need to regularly assess cultural norms to ensure that they fully align with the organization’s strategic goals.  If leaders aren’t thoughtful about how work gets done in terms of customer centricity, market approach, decision making, risk taking, innovation, and process variation, the company culture may make it difficult to execute key strategies.

For example, one recent high-tech client formed a strategy that called for high levels of customer intimacy to win work, but their internal processes were built to support an outdated and transactional approach to dealing with clients.  This caused new deals to get stalled and made it almost impossible to create the required bespoke solutions for their new clients.

Another financial services client found that their inability to make decentralized decisions inhibited their strategy to rapidly scale.

Four Steps to Shape the Corporate Culture You Want

  1. Create a Clear Strategy
    Because your strategy must go through your people and your culture to be successfully implemented, your first task is to ensure that “What” you are trying to accomplish is crystal clear and believable to all key stakeholders.

    You will know you are on the right path to strategic clarity when your strategic priorities can be captured on a one-page strategy map and be clearly articulated by those in charge of executing it.

  2. Define Your Desired Workplace Culture
    Once your strategic direction is set, it is time for those responsible for creating the strategy to define “How” work needs to get done in order to best execute the strategy. We recommend defining your desired workplace culture across 10 research-backed cultural dimensions.

    When leaders agree on how to treat customers, go to market, make decisions, share information, and manage risk, it provides clear direction about “The Way” work needs to get done.

  3. Assess Your Current Workplace Culture
    Once your leadership team knows how you want people to think, behave, and work across the ten dimensions, your next step is to assess your current culture to identify the most important cultural gaps that must be closed in order to set your strategy up for success.

    It is one thing to know how you want people to behave, it is another to understand “how” work currently gets done.  Only your employees can tell you what it is truly like to work in your organization.

  4. Create a Plan to Close the Gaps
    As with any change, it is important to effectively communicate expectations and monitor progress. Be clear about what specific practices and behaviors will support and promote your company’s strategy.  Make sure the desired cultural expectations are consistently and proportionately monitored, modeled, and rewarded by leaders, managers, and team members.

The Bottom Line
Are you sure that your leaders and employees have understood your desired culture?  Are you sure that your culture is helping and not hindering your team’s ability to move your business strategy forward?  If not, you have some culture work to do in order to ensure that your company is firing on all cylinders.

To learn more about how to ensure that your leaders and employees understand your desired culture, download The 3 Levels of Corporate Culture to Get Aligned for Higher Performance

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