Why do organizations make the decision and commitment to work on their cultures? If you’re in the “contemplation” phase of making that decision, it’s important to consider what to expect to get out of that exercise. If you’re reading this blog, then I’ll assume that you’ve likely come to the realization and understanding that taking action on your culture is much more than a morale-boosting employee engagement exercise.
Far beyond a “free pizza on Fridays” program, working on your company culture is addressing the core of who and what you are as an organization. Culture is just about the one and only thing that touches and affects every part of your business. Of the countless definitions of workplace culture to be found via a simple Google search, I prefer a fairly simple one – your culture is simply how you do things – how you and your team work with each other, with customers, and even with your vendors and suppliers.
With that definition of culture, what result does an engagement focused on culture deliver? An effective and comprehensive program will help you impact the following areas:
Attracting and Retaining A-Level Talent – Despite the current impact of the pandemic on overall employment, there is still a healthy level of competition for the best talent. Your best performers will be disinclined to look for other opportunities if they’re happy where they are, and top-notch talent will start to seek you out as word spreads about what a great organization you are.
Improved Productivity Among and Across Teams – If you define culture as “how we do things around here”, then your culture work should help align and drive consistency in the way that people work. When your team approaches problems, opportunities, and tasks in a similar fashion, the result is smoother and more cohesive because teams are in fact working together.
Differentiation in a Competitive Market – Let’s face it, most of your competitors offer the same products and/or services that you do, and often at roughly the same price. We live in a world where even new products and services don’t maintain a competitive advantage for very long. How you work with your clients, teammates, and vendors – your culture – is unique and isn’t very easily copied. Your culture is a competitive advantage in a rapidly commoditizing market.
Preserving and Protecting your Culture During Growth or Expansion – According to a study by Deloitte, mismatched company culture is behind 30% of failed M&A activity. When two groups are brought together, each with their own history of “how things get done”, without a roadmap of “how things should be done,” the result is friction, stress, and confusion.
Even on a smaller level, newly hired employees are generally trained on their job specifics, but are usually left on their own to figure out what the culture is. Tasks and activities can be learned easily, but rarely is there an “instruction manual” that describes the intricacies of how people work together and what is expected of one another.
Having a clearly defined culture that can be documented and articulated makes it easier to add new people or organizations because it can now be taught and explained. That helps them assimilate more quickly, making them more productive more quickly, and less stressed from the start.
Keeping Teams Aligned when Most Team Members are Working Remotely – The concept and practice or working remotely is new to many organizations and employees. For many, the opportunity and ability to train, coach, and guide their employees and teammates disappeared overnight. A clearly defined, communicated, and understood company culture provides the framework and guidance to keep everyone focused in the same direction and on the same things. Without that clarity, individuals act individually, and that can often lead to a lack of alignment and a diversion from the intended path. A good culture can and should be the glue that keeps remote teams on track.
Making the decision to work on your culture is a decision that can and should impact the entirety of your business. More than a morale or even engagement focused activity, it’s an event that will ultimately affect everyone in your work stream – from vendors and suppliers, to your internal team, and certainly your customers. Despite the wide-ranging impact that the work will have, it needn’t be time-consuming or distracting. The elements that drive success usually aren’t that complicated, and they don’t require significant change in most cases. It simply requires top-level support and sponsorship, and the willingness to get the work started.
If you’d like to learn more about how to be more systematic in your approach to culture, click the button below, give us a call or check out what scores of CEOs say about the transformative impact of their culture work.