Ignoring Corporate Culture Is a Big Mistake

Ignoring Corporate Culture 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."

Are You Ignoring Corporate Culture?
All too many business leaders make the dangerous mistake of ignoring corporate culture because they think it’s:

  • Irrelevant to business performance
  • Unmeasurable
  • Too “soft”
  • Impossible to change anyway

All Four Assumptions About Culture Are Incorrect
The good news is that corporate culture:

  • Correlates to higher business performance
  • Can be measured
  • Is “hard” in terms of accountability and focus
  • Can be changed and shaped to align with your business and people strategies

Why Culture Matters To Business Performance
We define workplace culture as the way things get done in a business from day-to-day. Your culture 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 To Measure Culture
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:

  • Approach
  • Validity
  • Cost
  • Ease of implementation
  • Analysis

How To Change or Improve Culture
We agree that cultural change can be a challenge. But there are many business situations that demand it. While it is always easier to stick with the status quo than make a concerted effort to operate differently, at a minimum make sure you:

  1. Ensure the rationale for culture change is clear, compelling and urgent enough.
  2. Use a proven change model that takes you step-by-step through the process.
  3. Actively involve all key stakeholders and encourage robust and two-way questions and discussions.
  4. Monitor, recognize and celebrate desired behaviors and results.
  5. Create transparency and accountability.

The Bottom Line
To be successfully implemented, strategies must go through people and culture.  Underestimating or ignoring corporate culture is a big mistake.  Avoid a culture crisis by getting ahead of leadership changes, mergers, acquisitions and shifts in strategy for a culture perspective.  You will be happy you did.

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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