How to Effectively Manage Your Company Culture

How to Effectively Manage Your Company Culture
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What Is Company Culture?
So much is being written about company culture these days, but few fully understand the importance of company culture or its impact. We define company culture as HOW work gets done as opposed to the strategy or WHAT you want to accomplish in an organization. You need to manage your company culture to achieve peak performance.

Your company culture began from the moment your organization established its strategic priorities. Company culture is that unique combination of the beliefs, attitudes, and values of your workforce that determine how the business operates and how employees think and behave as they achieve their work objectives. 

Its Impact
We know from our organizational alignment research that an aligned workplace culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies in terms of revenue growth, profitability, employee engagement, customer loyalty, and leadership effectiveness. What used to be considered a “soft” side of business is now acknowledged to have a “hard” side.

According to a recent report by Deloitte, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a clear company culture is vital to a business’ success. The right culture, whatever that may be in your unique situation, matters a lot not only to employee engagement but also to the bottom line.

While there are many drivers of corporate culture change, we know that any shift in strategy requires a commensurate shift in culture.  Why?  Because your strategy must go through your culture and your people to be successfully implemented. 

What Company Culture Would Best Support Your Strategic Success?
Think of a series of 10 cultural dimensions along a continuum that describe various aspects of how a company truly gets work done. Each cultural dimension represents a range of how people think, behave, and act. The ranges on the continuum are not necessarily good or bad – they represent areas of cultural alignment or cultural misalignment.  What matters most is what would best support successful strategy execution in your specific organization, marketplace, and customer base.

Your Current Culture
For example, when thinking about your current culture, where on a cultural decision making continuum would your company land — centralized or decentralized? Do you operate more as a market adopter like Kia or a market leader like Tesla? Are your relationships with your customers more transactional or intimate? Do you embrace or avoid risk?

You get the idea.  Before you can shape your desired culture, it is important to assess your current culture so you can navigate the magnitude of potential culture shifts required to best execute your strategy.

Your Desired Culture to Align with Your Strategy
Once you fully understand your current culture, here are the next steps to manage toward the optimal desired culture.

  1. Define the Optimal HOW to Achieve the Desired WHAT
    You need to figure out what cultural attributes mesh best with your organizational strategy. Until you define what culture would best support attaining your strategic goals, you cannot begin to manage the direction you want your culture to take.
  2. Identify the Cultural Gaps and Priorities
    Once you define the desired workplace culture that would best align with your strategy, you need to analyze how closely your current culture resembles the ideal. In what respects do your behaviors, practices, and attitudes reflect the culture you want and in what respects do they stray? What aspects are likely to hinder or help strategy execution?
  3. Manage Your Company Culture Change
    You can’t shift culture all at once. As with any organizational change initiative, prioritize the critical few cultural shifts that matter the most. Determine which one or two big moves will have the biggest impact.

    Actively involve all employees who will be affected by the changes as much as you can, so they feel they have some ownership of the process. Then prepare people leaders with the tools and practices they will need to help employees connect the HOW to the WHAT.
  4. Provide Ongoing Support
    Understand that culture change requires time and patience. Make sure that the end game is clear and reinforced with consistent messaging, encouraging feedback, and needed resources. This is what you need to stay the course.

The Bottom Line
To manage your company culture in a purposeful way, define the desired culture and proactively manage towards it. You will reap higher business and people performance.

To learn more about how to align your culture with your strategy, download How to Build a Purposeful and Aligned Corporate Culture.

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