Culture in the News

Week of June 12- Who Decides Culture, and Why?

What Makes Up Culture?

"There are a number of other things that I think a CEO can do to influence and shape company culture...[Only] so much bonding can be accomplished during a quick midday break. That’s why we have regular social events (okay, happy hours) that are kind of/sort of mandatory. Some may call it forced fun, but I prefer to think of it as the team that plays together, stays together.”

Our Take- We agree there is no organization too small to think about having an intentional approach to their culture. This article outlines some popular techniques if you'd like to transform your culture's Atmosphere to a Social environment. However, that's not the only approach available for your organization's Atmosphere, which is on a scale of good-to-good. Many successful organizations of all sizes have fun at work in a Disciplined manner, described on the left side of this spectrum.

Furthermore, this is just one dimension of culture. Whether a leader builds community through team lunches or collaborative projects, individuals still need to know how to approach their work to best reach the business goals. This is where the other nine dimensions come in, so that leaders take the same intentional stance on how to approach Customers, Decision Making- Location, Risk Tolerance, and more. To be most effective, strategy must drive deciding an organization needs to be on each spectrum of culture. When strategy and culture are aligned, one's culture isn't just intentional, it's Purposeful. This week's webinar will tell you how it's done.

Culture to Fit Leaders, or Leaders Adapt to Culture?

When Leaders Are Hired for Talent but Fired for Not Fitting In

"Knowing a leader’s motives and values is pointless unless organizations are also able to decode their own culture. Sadly, most organizations underestimate the importance of accurately profiling their culture so they end up relying on intuitive and unrealistic ideas that say more about what they would like to be than what they actually are.”

Our Take- This article raises an interesting and important aspect of workplace dynamics- what works for one person won't work for another. This is why we encourage the culture of an organization to be guided by strategy, not one leader's preference.

Aligning the approach to work (culture) with the organization's direction and goals (strategy) provides an objective consistency for individuals, teams, and leaders of any range of tenure. Most importantly, this is what allows a Purposeful Culture to be sustainable and successful, rather than the flavor of the month.

Week of June 5- Culture Change How-to's and the Role of Strategy

Culture- Easy as 1, 2, 3?

AE Magazine talks about ways to improve company culture, with one action item being “Defining Company Culture”. Many senior leaders and business owners tend “ think that the occasional catered lunch or surprise half day equates to a great company culture, but that’s way off the mark.”

Our Take- Culture change is sometimes seen as adding happy hours and ping pong tables to the office. We find that the benefits of changes such as those last only as long as they took to implement. In order to achieve your organization’s highest competitive advantage, you must take the time to implement a purposeful culture to create that long term change. By creating an alignment between strategy and culture (purposeful culture) it allows everyone to become interdependent and act with a more unified mindset. This month's webinar will tell you how it's done.

Who is in Charge of Culture?

Strategy vs. Culture: And the Winner Is…

Joe Almeida posted a pulse article on LinkedIn saying: “Evolving a culture is not as simple as capturing new values on a flipchart. But it has to start at the top…and then get reinforced with dogged persistence at all levels of the organization.”

Our Take- We agree that defining culture must start with the leadership team. This is what our Phase I in our culture transformation is for. Everyone on the leadership team must have the same goals and strategies in mind to create a roadmap for the future of the organization. Leaders must convey to the rest of the organization how to approach their work to meet the organization’s strategic goals. Leaders drive culture. Culture drives performance. Performance drives results. Trust drives everything.

Week of May 29- What to Tackle First?

CHRO- An Overlooked Opportunity?

"Traditional HR leaders might feel compelled to offer conservative solutions, rather than risk trying an unconventional approach to unknotting a problem." One CHRO explained this is an outdated, stating, “If I’m not presenting ideas that get turned down by the top team, I know I am playing it too safe. My job is to push the envelope.” Another affirmed, “Many leaders experience HR as administrators who can be barriers rather than enablers. I discovered that HR doesn’t need to be like that, and as CHRO I use every skill I ever learned."

Our Take- We often hear from HR Leaders that they encounter obstacles in getting a seat at the C-Suite table. As a result, they are often included in conversations towards the end, once logistics become more pressing. As this article demonstrates, organizations benefit from a diversified approach to this role. That's why we created our Strategy Culture Alignment Certification, which qualifies leaders of all backgrounds to lead the efforts in creating a purposeful culture- or aligning strategic goals with how the way work gets done (culture). For more on gaining a strategic edge, click here.

The Chicken or the Egg- Performance & Engagement

If Culture Comes First, Performance Will Follow

"A vice-president approached me one day after I finished delivering a keynote...'It takes too long,' he said. 'These engagement things you talked about, it takes too long to implement. I need to drive results, not worry about people's feelings,' That exchange haunts me somewhat," the author recalls. Throughout the article he explains the many reasons this is off the mark, stating, "The results are stunning, and prove yet again that if culture comes first, performance levels will follow."

Our Take- This article focuses primarily on engagement as a reflection of culture. While engagement is essential, it's not where the work ends. Imagine having two very engaged employees, who approach their work in very different ways. Let's say one relies heavily on facts and figures, while the other prefers to follow their intuition. Think of the time they must waste throughout the day, striving to find consensus with such conflicting view points. As an organization, if culture were to be aligned to the strategic goals, these employees would understand which approaches will be most effective for reaching their goals and achieving results.

Learn more on this month's webinar

Are You on the Same Page with Your Team?

Do You Know How Each Person on Your Team Likes to Work?

"It’s helpful to spend time up front connecting and creating a common language with your team. When your team knows how you like to work and how you plan to manage them, they’re able to produce results faster. When you know how each of your direct reports likes to work and communicate, you’re able to save time when setting direction and following up."

Our Take- This article offers a great jumping off point for connecting with employees and improving communication. As a manager or leader, if you've committed to making your employees feel heard and understood, why not take the opportunity to connect this to culture? Try thinking of your organization as your number one employee- how does the organization work best? What is needed for success? By aligning your culture to your strategy, you are addressing just that- how work needs to be done in order to reach strategic goals. This may sound like quite the undertaking, it actually makes all of your other work easier. When having these conversations, add the extra sentence of how this employee should be thinking about their work to reach the organization's goals. Rather than being overwhelmed, you'll find employees are empowered to see how they individually contribute to success of the whole.

Week of May 22- The Role of CEO's and Millennials

The Role of the CEO in Culture Change

New Ford CEO promises to be a 'cultural change agent,' Bill Ford says

In addition, Bill Ford's expectations for the new CEO, Jim Hackett, include:
  • "Reenergize our business [and] sharpen our executing excellence"
  • "[Allow] ideas flowing freely throughout the company without regard to hierarchy"
  • "Modernize our business [and plan to] integrate trends or thoughtfully choose not to"
  • "Continue to develop and invent new business"
  • "Speed up our decision making [and] move decisively to address underperforming areas"
  • "Invest capital where we can create value"
Our Take- You may be thinking, 'How will Hackett tackle these priorities, and on top of it all, be a culture change agent as well?" Rather, we challenge you to see it as we do- Ford will roll out innovative products, empower employees of all levels to make decisions, and compete with current trends because they're starting with culture. Culture isn't the extra work, it is the work. To read more about how Ford can start with culture, click here.

Culture from a Millennial’s Perspective

Why Millennials Keep Dumping You: An Open Letter to Management

"Don’t confuse culture with collateral. Yes, I am a cash-strapped millennial who really appreciates free lunch. But I don’t wake up at 6AM every day to play foosball in the break room," Elizabeth McLeod explains, "I need to be surrounded by people who are on fire for what we’re doing. I need a manager who is motivated to push boundaries and think differently. Working in a cool office is really awesome. So is free lunch. But a purposeful culture is more important."

Our Take- While Millennials are often featured for speaking out about the environment and style they'd like to work in, this doesn't mean these preferences are new or unique. Don’t we all want to work in environments where there are clear expectations and our work contributes to the overall company’s success? (For a deeper dive into how millennials stack up against other employees- click here). In order to create a work environment and culture that unifies all employees, culture must be aligned to the organization's strategic goals, and it must be translated throughout the entire organization. This approach empowers all individuals and leaders to drive the organization forward, and be the catalyst of that fire of passion.

Week of May 15- Industry Changes and Sustainable Success

Fast Food, Time for Manners?

Inside Chick-fil-A’s Drive-Thru Strategy

"'It’s all about speed and accuracy, but we know our customers appreciate that we can be nice while being fast and accurate,' Mark Moraitakis, senior director of hospitality and service design, told QSR. 'Eye contact and smiling go a long way in the drive-thru experience.'"

Our Take- Often times, when organizations hear us compare the cultural approach to Customers as Transactional or Intimate, their minds go to what one side is not. Transactional is misinterpreted to be careless, while Intimate can be seen as slow. However, we see culture on a scale of good to good. If it's best for an organization's strategy to prioritize customer efficiency, a healthy organization will do so in a thoughtful way, as this article demonstrates. Likewise, if an organization's strategy calls for Intimate customer relationships, this can be done with effective processes in place.

Can You Measure Culture if You Can't Define It?

The Key To Creating A Great Company Culture (Hint: It's Not The Perks)

"[A client group] had upgraded their common space, come up with five 'cultural values,' each with a couple of sentences of fairly vague and lofty explanation, and then shared these with everyone, along with some hopeful rhetoric from the senior team," author Erika Anderson explains. "They were frustrated when all this seemed to have made no difference in how people worked together, and they were open to looking at the challenge in a new way."

Our Take- We think of values as a portion of organizational health. They can act as a guiding post for your leadership, teams, and new hires, but they won't be what sets you apart. A purposeful culture is just that, a series of purposeful decisions to intentionally align the way work gets done with the strategic goals in mind. Organizational health engages employees. A Purposeful Culture engages the business strategy.

Week of May 8- Remote Teams, Perks, and ROI

Culture in the Virtual Workplace

5 Ways to Instill a Company Culture Even When Your Workforce Is Virtual

"Company culture isn't necessarily dependent upon a physical workspace. It’s especially important for virtual teams to find a way to instill that culture in other ways, such as through video chats and online collaboration."

Our Take- In remote offices, there can be subcultures and differences in context, but individuals in a purposeful culture are unified in how their work should be approached. When culture, or how work gets done, is defined in line with the strategic goals, team members of all locations and functions have the same priorities in mind. Let's take decision making- information. The facts that go into the office in Toledo may be different than the facts that go into the office in Sydney, but both locations know that the organization is committing to utilizing facts, rather than intuition, in the decision making process.

Culture and the Role of the CEO

A CEO's Main Focus Should Be Improving Company Culture

"Having a great company culture doesn’t mean having ping-pong tables and free beer. Those are perks. And although many emerging startups boast benefits...[these] will not lead to the success and growth of your company."

Our Take- Every workplace should be enjoyable, that's a part of being healthy. The attributes of a healthy organization are not typically different from other organizations and do not address how culture determines how business gets done. Organizational health is necessary but insufficient to execute the business strategy which in the end will create a sustainable organization. Organizational health engages employees. A Purposeful Culture engages the business strategy.

How Much Perks Pay Off?

Three-Day Weekends and Free Vacation Money? CEOs Take Job Perks to the Max

"With these perks in place, Slater said staff turnover has reduced to zero, growth has surged, the caliber of recruits has heightened, and employees rate the culture as 'excellent' when surveyed."

Our Take-
We have found less than 5% of organizations have “cracked the code” in purposefully aligning their culture with their strategy. While many go through the motions of engagement, these efforts often don’t impact the organization’s core cultural beliefs. A culture transformation is not an event, but rather a journey. When focus is placed on changing an organization's physical and structural attributes, the competitive advantage of this doesn't often last longer than it takes to implement. Culture change is about integrating the topic of culture and your “secret sauce” into everything you already do. It isn’t extra work; it is the work.

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