Is Your Culture Helping or Hindering Your Strategy?

Is Your Culture Helping or Hindering Your Strategy?
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Time to Assess and Rethink How Work Gets Done – Is Your Culture Helping or Hindering Your Strategy?
There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the world and the way we operate as individuals, as businesses, and as countries. To slow down the spread of the virus, a global shift was required in the way we think, behave, and live our lives.

While we are still awaiting a vaccine, it is hard to tell what the new normal will look like. But we can be sure that there will be changes. The question is just how deeply and widely those changes will impact our way of life. What we do know is that now is the time to assess and rethink how we want our ways of thinking, behaving, living, and working to evolve and improve. We are likely to have to change both our strategy and our culture.

Culture in the Corporate World
We think of corporate culture as how work gets done.  It is a company’s collective values, practices, beliefs, and behaviors. Once considered the “soft” side of employee life, company culture is generally acknowledged to be a significant factor in long-term business success.

  • Our organizational alignment research found that corporate culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performance in terms of revenue growth, profitability, leadership effectiveness, customer loyalty, and employee engagement.
  • Duke University’s recent study of over 1,000 senior executives found that 92% reported that improving their company culture would increase their company’s value, but only 16% felt their culture was “where it needed to be.” Clearly, there is some cultural alignment work to be done.

Culture and Strategy Work Hand in Hand
As corporate strategies and operations are redesigned to accommodate the new normal of business, organizational culture must also adjust. Why?  Because, just like participants learn in our virtual change management simulation,  your strategies and plans must go through your people and your culture to be successfully implemented.

Any misalignment between your strategy and your culture will derail the best laid plans.  One cannot work without being highly aligned with the other. People need to adopt new behaviors and new ways of working that align with the desired changes.

4 Ways to Achieve a Shift in Corporate Culture
Cultural transformations are not at all easy to achieve. But there are four actions business leaders can take now to prepare for the new normal.

  1. Understand Your Current Workplace Culture
    Assess your current workplace culture. Where are the trouble spots? What aspects of your culture are most likely to help or hinder organizational health, high performance, or strategy execution?

    Some answers may lie in the lack of transparency, a disconnect between stated company values and how leaders actually behave, a lack of trust, too many layers required to make decisions, or misalignment across ten key strategic dimensions of culture.

  2. Agree Upon Your Desired Workplace Culture
    Once you understand your current culture, your next step is to clearly articulate your desired organizational culture in terms of health, performance, and strategic alignment.

    While we believe that both leaders and employees should own the culture of their organization, we also believe that the same people responsible for designing the company strategy should be responsible for defining the desired culture to best execute that strategy.

  3. Prioritize the Cultural Shifts that Matters Most
    Once you understand your current culture and have defined your desired culture, your next step is to prioritize the critical few cultural shifts required to better align your culture with your strategy.  Cultural shifts are not easy.

    Pare down the list to the one or two big moves that will have the biggest impact.

  4. Prepare People Leaders
    Once the culture shifts have been agreed upon, the next step is to prepare people leaders with the tools and practices to connect the What (Strategy) and How (Culture) for their teams.

    The more you can actively involve employees affected by the changes in the design of the solution, the better.

The Bottom Line
Business leaders are responsible for not only navigating a crisis, but also for preparing for the end of a crisis. Companies that are ready to meet the challenge of shifting strategy and ensuring cultural consistency are the companies that will succeed. Are you doing all you can to align your business practices and employee behaviors with your new strategic direction?

To learn more about whether your culture is helping or hindering your strategy, download The 3 Research-Backed Levels of Corporate Culture Leaders Must Get Right to Create Higher Performance

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