Tag Archives: Company Culture

Lesson 4: Who Are Your Leaders?

A Leader's Sphere of Influence

Culture is created by shared experience, but it is the leader who initiates this process by acting out his or her beliefs, values, and assumptions in the behaviors he or she demonstrates and the practices he or she uses.

So far, we have focused on senior leaders due to the power they have to drive change. Specifically, we’ve examined how a senior leader can shift culture by intentionally using the tools at his or her disposal. When this is done effectively, change within his or her sphere of influence is pretty much guaranteed.

Yet, it isn’t only people in senior leadership roles who have influence. Anyone in a management position has the capacity to affect the people reporting to them, while highly regarded individuals in non-management roles influence their peers and others in their network. In other words, every leader regardless of level can influence culture however, the extent depends on their sphere of influence.

This is important for two reasons. For one, if you can identify the leaders in your organization with the largest spheres of influence then align and engage them in culture change, you can accelerate the change process significantly. Second, focusing on high influence leaders allows for a targeted approach and investment that optimizes the use of precious resources while achieving the desired outcomes. This doesn’t mean you ignore the rest of the organization. Obviously, other people with less influence are part of the culture and need to be considered in the change effort. The difference is in the strategies you use to engage them.

A Leader’s Sphere of Influence

A leader’s sphere of influence refers to the people and things (that is; policies, processes, structures, space and so on) directly or indirectly affected by his or her actions. The size and scope of the sphere of influence is determined, in part, by the person’s role, responsibilities and relationships. In other words, the more senior you are, the greater your potential influence and capacity to effect change.

A Leader's Sphere of Influence

In a small organization, the senior leader or leadership team is typically involved in most if not all aspects of operations, thus their sphere of influence is extensive and powerful. This is what is meant by the phrase “you can see their fingerprints on pretty much everything”.  Other leaders have influence over people and things, but this is limited. As an organization grows, we can see an increase in the scope of influence below the senior management level. This does not mean that the senior leaders’ sphere of influence has diminished. The increase in size and complexity that accompanies growth requires senior leaders shift more and more of their attention to strategic matters and delegate responsibility for running the business to people at lower levels. As a result, front-line employees, their managers and their managers’ managers may have limited, if any, contact or interaction with senior leaders.

The outcome is an increase in the influence of mid-level managers and the immediate manager. People in these roles directly effect the work experience of the people who report to them and the way things are done within their area of responsibility. They also indirectly affect people and work in adjacent areas. To make matters more complex, leaders can also be found in non-management roles usually by virtue of their expertise, personality and/or credibility. The result is a complex web of shared connections and work creating overlapping spheres of influence.

Why is this important? When a critical mass of leaders is aligned and committed to achieving a common goal, it creates an amplifying effect exponentially increasing the probability of achieving meaningful, sustained culture change in a relatively short period. The bottom-line is the more tools used in an intentional and aligned manner by the more people in positions of influence, the greater the impact and speed of change. Consider for a moment the potential for accelerating culture change by engaging influential leaders. If we can align the behaviors and practices of these leaders, we have the potential to create an “influence bomb”. In other words, we can maximize impact by focusing on the critical few. This creates new demands on people in senior leadership roles as they must not only lead the way but identify, engage and support leaders at all levels through the change effort.

Leaders Exist at Every Level

So, who are your ‘leaders’? One thing for sure is they can’t be identified simply by job titles and descriptions. Job titles generally indicate a person’s position in the organization’s structure while job descriptions broadly define the person’s role, responsibilities and level of authority. They might even include the word ‘leader’, but this doesn’t mean the person is a leader.

A leader is anyone who others follow and who, in turn, influences others’ beliefs, values and behaviors. He or she may be in a leadership role by nature of his or her position in the organization, such as a manager, team leader or supervisor. However, a leader can also be a technical expert, a person with a lot of seniority who knows how to get things done, someone with a charismatic or relatable personality, or anyone that others look to for guidance. These informal leaders do not have the same capacity to effect change however, they can still be highly influential.

This was evident in spades at a global security company where I participated in a study of innovation practices. The company had managed to hire a core group of highly respected software engineers to develop new product solutions using cloud technology. These individuals had tremendous credentials with work experience at companies like Google, Yahoo and Amazon. Yet, here they were working in an outdated office at an industry mall located at the outskirts of Irvine, California. To put this in perspective, the company is in the security industry not high tech and the office didn’t even have a decent coffee maker, never mind any of the bells and whistles offered by other employers. Why did the engineers choose to work here?

For one, the opportunity to have a significant role working with leading-edge technology on a full product solution was a huge factor. This is what helped them to land the first engineer; that, and an attractive compensation package. The rest of the team however, followed the first engineer. They wanted the opportunity to work with him trusting that if he thought the work was interesting and exciting, they would too. A few team members had in fact followed him from company to company. As a result, instead of having to recruit the other members of the team, they had people knocking at their door.

To be clear, the first engineer was not the team leader or manager. He had absolutely no interest in either role. Yet, arguably he had more influence on other members of the team than anyone in the organization regardless of their job title or position. He set the ‘rules’ and others followed. This included adopting flexible work hours, creating physical spaces where the team could collaborate, participating in open source communities, hosting ‘beer Friday’ progress reviews, and utilizing agile development practices. These were things he had experienced working with other high performing teams that he believed created the right kind of environment for the team to be creative and do their best work.

In this case, the manager of the team’s role was, to use a football analogy, run block for the first engineer and the team. This involved navigating the bureaucracy to make sure the right people were aware of what was happening and supported the team. This was no easy task as the

Leaders Exist at Every Level

company was indeed large, slow-moving and hierarchical with a strong aversion to risk and propensity for standardization and compliance. Despite his efforts, there were numerous situations where people in functional groups tried to force the team to comply with company policies and eliminate non-standard practices. Most were the results of complaints from other employees who believed they should have the same opportunities and perks as the engineering team. Fortunately, senior executives recognized the importance of the team’s efforts and were closely monitoring its progress. They also recognized that attracting and retaining top engineering talent required protecting the team from the existing culture and allowing them latitude to operate outside accepted norms and policies. The result was a team culture that was a stark contrast to the culture in the rest of the company. It was agile, flexible, adaptive and responsive; attributes critical to innovation.

Five Essential Leadership Qualities

What was so special about the first engineer that other top professionals looked to him for leadership? He was a leader because other people viewed him as such, not because he chose to be or as a by-product of his position and seniority. The company employed many engineers with even more experience however, few came closer in terms of influence. When asked to what he attributed his influence, he responded with a shrug and “I don’t know” so, we asked his peers.

First and foremost, he was widely acknowledged as one of the absolute best software engineers in his field. This wasn’t the result of a degree or professional accreditation but rather credibility he earned through his work, articles and blogs he wrote, and his participation in open source and other forums. Second, he was passionate about his work and wanted people to challenge and question him. He had a healthy ego but, at the same time, he valued the ideas of other experts, which made for some intense and, to quote, “incredibly stimulating and productive arguments and debates”. Third, he was a team player who was fun to work with. Bottom-line, he was respected and, as more than one person said, “I like to work with people I know, like and respect”. Fundamentally, he demonstrated five qualities essential to developing the trust-based relationships required to be an effective leader at any level:

Authenticity: True to self and genuine. The first engineer was very clear on what was important to him which was evident in his reasons for joining the security company instead of one of the big, sexy high-tech firms. The security company promised to meet his need to work on leading edge tech while providing creative freedom, flexibility and ownership of a solution. He could also work with other experts and people he liked presenting an opportunity to learn and grow professionally; something very important to him. In other words, he chose to work at a place and with people aligned with his personal values. In so doing, he demonstrated a high level of self-awareness and the courage to make choices consistent with his values. He was also transparent and forthcoming in sharing these values and expectations, as well as his opinions and concerns, with his peers, manager and others. While, they might not agree, he expected people to respect his views and values. As a result, people knew what was important to him and could accurately predict how he would react in different situations.

Credibility: Respected and believable. The first engineer knew his stuff which automatically gave him street cred, especially with his peers. If he said something, they believed him. The thing is this wasn’t limited to his area of technical expertise. When he shared his opinions on people, processes and policies, for instance, his peers listened and usually adopted similar views. This meant he had tremendous potential as an agent for change. It also meant that his concerns or negative experiences had a much greater impact on others than might be expected. This was abundantly clear when it came time for performance reviews and merit increases. The company’s policy was to direct managers to rank performers within a team from top to bottom and allocate merit increases accordingly. Added to this were policies limiting the maximum percentage and amount of the merit increase based on budget and compensation range. This was not received well by the first engineer who was very vocal in sharing his discontent with the rest of the team. In short order, this became a significant issue with team members openly talking about job opportunities elsewhere.

Trustworthiness: Honest and reliable. He does what he says he will do. His words and actions are 100% consistent; he ‘walks the talk’. If the first engineer said he was going to do something, he delivered to the best of his abilities. This wasn’t isolated to his job, specific tasks and deliverables but extended to meeting the team’s commitments. If he saw another person struggling, he would step in to help never asking for recognition or credit. This was also evident in the way he worked with other groups. A lot of the team’s deliverables depended on people in other functions and business units who worked in more traditional ways. This meant the team had to adopt practices so they could move forward despite the obstacles they faced. It wasn’t good enough to point a finger at another group when things went wrong. They did everything in their power to meet their commitments and, on the rare occasion when they were unable to deliver, they and the rest of the organization knew it wasn’t for a lack of effort.

Collaborative: We not me. While the first engineer was widely viewed by his peers as the informal leader of the team, leadership often shifted between team members as they worked together to solve a problem or complete a deliverable. There were also times when he deferred to the team manager, such as when there were issues with other teams that needed positional clout to resolve. This is what they meant when his peers described him as a team player. Rather than assuming the role of leader with the rest of the team following, he was a partner and collaborator. If there was an issue to be dealt with, he came to the table as an equal participant with other members of the team. People listened to him and often moved forward with his ideas because of his expertise not because he was their ‘leader’. They would go to him with questions, to bounce ideas around and ask for his thoughts on things they were working on because they valued his insights and vice versa.

Integrity: Does the right thing, always. Possesses and steadfastly adheres to high moral principles or professional standards. For the first engineer, and other experts, integrity is essential as it is the foundation of credibility and respect. This requires acting in a manner that is beyond reproach especially when it involves sharing knowledge and ideas. The first engineer and members of the team drew heavily on the work of external experts available through open source and professional forums. They spoke about this openly always attributing ownership to the source. This was an unspoken credo. If anyone was to ‘steal’ someone else’s code or ideas and, heaven forbid, imply it was their own was to risk immediate and significant censure.

When a leader embodies these five qualities, he sends the message that he genuinely believes in what he is doing and saying; that he is 100% committed in both words and actions to doing what he believes is right; and he adheres to high moral standards. In other words, this is someone that others can trust – period.

The Manager as Leader

In an ideal world, we would see these qualities in everyone who holds a management title and position. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, which is why I argue you can be a manager and not a leader. Leadership is earned not given. It isn’t a title that can be bestowed on a person. It is something others give because they trust and want to follow a person.

Managers have influence because of their position of authority over others. If the manager isn’t trusted, this influence is limited to the people and things under their direct control. On the other hand, if the manager is trusted, his sphere of influence expands in breadth and depth. The people who he works and interacts with look to him for guidance and are proactive in following his lead. They engage with him on an emotional level. This applies to people who report to him directly as well as others within his network. With this in mind, we are going to take a closer look at two management roles that play an important part in culture change.

The Importance of the Immediate Manager

Anyone who has worked with a very good or bad manager can clearly recall the effect this person had on the culture of their department or team. Remember the ‘micro-manager’ that was constantly looking over your shoulder and telling you in agonizing detail how to do things or the manager that never, ever, made a decision? How did that affect your work experience? On the other hand, many of us have been fortunate enough to work with managers who empowered us to make decisions and backed this up with the support and guidance we need to be successful. How different was that?

Whether a manager is good or bad, if they have people reporting to them and assign work, evaluate performance, determine rewards and impact career options, they influence others and culture. This power over others creates a dynamic whereby people look to their immediate manager for guidance in terms of behavior and work practices. For instance, if the manager is detailed-oriented, the people who report to her quickly learn to pay attention to detail. This is simply common sense. For this reason alone, it is important to engage managers in the change process. If senior leaders are saying one thing, even if their actions are consistent with their words, and the immediate manager is doing something different, in most cases people will follow the lead of their manager who they believe has the greatest impact on them personally.

This is important as it highlights the need to develop strategies to engage and align managers regardless of their scope of influence. If they have people reporting to them, they influence behavior and practices which means they impact culture. While it doesn’t make sense to engage them in the same way we would high influence leaders, it is important to include strategies that make the immediate manager part of the solution.

Caught in the Middle   

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard senior leaders point to mid-level managers as ‘the problem’ in change initiatives. They believe that employees and front-line managers are on board, but those darn middle level managers keep getting in the way. In one particularly memorable instance, the CEO of a large multi-national telecom manufacturer described mid-level managers as a ‘sponge’ – they soak up information shared by executives and drip down bits to front-line managers and employees. In other words, they filter the information to the point that the message is lost or distorted. The result is confusion and misunderstanding leading to unclear priorities and a lack of alignment which negatively affects performance and the change effort.

In all fairness, mid-level managers have perhaps the most difficult role in an organization. They are expected to translate senior leader’s vision and strategy into actions, which often involves leading strategic initiatives and complex projects. At the same time, they are expected to

Corporate Leadership

communicate priorities and manage the performance of work by lower level managers who look to them for direction and support. To make things even more challenging, they are also expected to work across boundaries to ensure alignment in executing the strategic priorities. This places them in the difficult position of having to juggle demands from several directions. They are literally caught in the middle.

At the same time, the nature of their role means the mid-level manager has tremendous potential to affect and accelerate culture change. One of the most effective strategies for changing culture is to use projects and strategic initiatives as vehicles for introducing new behaviors and practices. They can also identify systemic barriers which need to be addressed to support and sustain the change. By taking this approach, culture change is embedded in business-as-usual activities versus treated as a distinct initiative, thereby creating a higher probability of success. This approach also provides a unique way to learn new behaviors and practices while proving the merits of the new way of working thereby accelerating adoption in other parts of the organization. It is particularly effective in addressing challenges working across boundaries as this is a common feature of complex projects and strategic initiatives.

In Summary

While people in senior leadership roles are critical to the success of any culture change endeavor, it is important to remember that leaders exist at every level. These are the people others look to for advice, guidance and support. They earn the right to lead by being respected and trusted; they are credible, authentic, trustworthy, collaborative and have integrity. They have the power to intentionally shape the culture within their sphere of influence (the formal and informal groups that they belong to).  They do this through their words and actions which send clear messages to those around them that this is the ‘right’ or ‘best’ way to go about doing things. Identifying and enlisting a critical mass of these high influence leaders is important to the success of any culture change initiative.

Second, while a management title doesn’t mean someone is a leader, it is an indicator the person has influence over others behavior and work. As a result, culture change initiatives should include strategies to align and engage the immediate manager. These strategies are going to be different from those applied to high influence leaders but are still important. Third, mid-level managers, especially those who are influential leaders, have tremendous potential as change agents. In addition to their personal influence, the strategic initiatives, projects and businesses they manage are potential learning laboratories for the new culture. These can be used to learn new behaviors and practices and identify systemic barriers while at the same time providing proof of the benefits of culture change. Finally, people in positions of authority must be vigilant and fully committed to supporting these leaders otherwise, and I quote, “the organization’s immune system (existing culture) will kill the organism (new culture)”.

 

© CULTURESTRATEGYFIT® All rights reserved

Dr. Nancie Evans
Dr. Nancie Evans is co-founder and VP Client Solutions at Culture-Strategy Fit Inc. specializing in the alignment of organizational culture and strategy. She has developed a unique set of leading-edge diagnostic tools and approaches that provide leaders with deep insights into the culture of their organizations, how it is supporting or getting in the way of strategy execution, as well as the levers that they can use to drive rapid culture change.

CULTURESTRATEGYFIT®
Culture-Strategy Fit Inc. is a leading culture and executive leadership consulting firm conducting groundbreaking work in leveraging culture to drive strategy and performance. Its suite of culture surveys and culture alignment tools are used by market-leading organizations around the world.

When It Comes to Culture, Change Management Isn’t Enough

Man pushing rock up hill as an example of how difficult organizational culture change can be.

Changing culture requires effective change management but change management is rarely if ever, enough to achieve meaningful and sustainable culture change. Imagine an entrepreneurial organization that values speed, creativity and innovation. Embedded in its culture is the belief that success depends on the ability to unleash the potential of individuals, be agile and take risks. To this end, leaders have created a supportive, people first work environment that promotes autonomy, flexibility and adaptability. This has attracted talented people who are self-motivated and in return have the freedom to experiment and do what they believe is best in any given situation.

In this organization, ‘processes’ are perceived to be synonymous with bureaucracy, controls and slow decision-making. However, current business realities demand that the organization decrease its operating costs and increase operational efficiency. As a result, senior leaders decided to invest in business process management with the objective of streamlining work and removing waste.

When Is Change Management Not Enough?

A Lean Six Sigma Black Belt was hired to lead the new process improvement initiative. She formed a team with a mix of existing and new employees to document and lead the redesign of core processes. The team consulted with business and function leaders using their input to develop a project plan based on business priorities. Recognizing that the potential for employee resistance was high, the team also put together a change management plan that employed a high engagement strategy wherein employees affected by the process changes were actively involved in the redesign effort. In the meantime, an effort was directed at educating people on the need for the change and communicating plans and expectations.

Senior leaders also recognized the shift to more process was going to be difficult and were authentic in their desire to be supportive of the change. They spoke at townhalls and staff meetings, as well as hosted breakfast meetings and lunch and learns, where they explained why the business process improvement initiative was necessary and stated their personal commitment to making it a success.

However, despite the process team’s best efforts, there was significant resistance from people at all levels. Rather than follow the new process, employees continued to do things the ‘old way’. To make matters worse, this passive resistance was implicitly condoned by leaders who looked the other way. When the process team raised issues and concerns, the leaders agreed to act but did nothing. In the end, the process improvement initiative was deemed a failure and shelved.

What Was Missing?

The Commitment of Senior Leaders

Puzzle piece missing indicating the common missing factor or any culture change initiative.The single most important factor in determining the success of any culture change initiative is the level of commitment of senior leaders. Without this, culture change will not happen – period. By level of commitment, we mean active involvement, which includes being role models of the expected behaviors and designing the organization to create the conditions to encourage and support these behaviors. In this case, the lack of consistency in leaders’ words and actions undermined the efforts of the business process team.

Ignoring the Power of Personal Values

One of the main reasons people joined the company is due to the high value placed on autonomy, flexibility, responsiveness and personal accountability. This did not apply only to lower level employees. Senior executives and other leaders were hired or promoted because of their ability to get results demonstrating these very qualities.

Enter the new business process initiative. Implicit in its mandate and scope is the message that consistency and compliance (aka efficiency) are more important and more valued than personal accountability, flexibility and responsiveness. In effect, it said to people that the values, qualities and capabilities that had made them successful to date were no longer of value. This is a direct threat at a deeply personal level.

No matter how strong the business case, people are not going to embrace or accept a change that directly conflicts with their personal values, beliefs and experience. Explaining why the change is needed simply is insufficient to shift existing beliefs. In fact, no amount of communication or education would be successful in this situation.

Disconnect Between the Change and Brand

In this company, flexibility, agility and responsiveness are embedded in its brand and customer experience. Any customer, no matter how small, could contact someone at the company knowing they would get a solution tailored to their specific needs. And, they could get it quickly and hassle-free because every employee was empowered to do what was needed to make it happen. This model of flexibility with empowered accountability differentiated the company from its slower, more process-driven competitors leading to its current success and growth.

While the shift to more process made financial sense, it was in direct conflict with the brand values and everything employees believed important to customers.

Disconnect Between the Message and Experience

Acceptance of the change is even less likely when the message is at odds with people’s experience. They are told that processes reduce costs, decrease waste and increase efficiency yet, in many cases, while the process improvements benefit the overall organization, they are detrimental to the performance of their group.

As a result, instead of insisting on compliance with the new processes, leaders in the affected groups allow and even encourage people to do things outside the process. The message? It is okay to ignore the process and continue the old way of doing things. To make things worse, senior leaders turn a blind eye and don’t hold these leaders accountable for compliance. Not only does this undermine the efficacy of the business process initiative, but it also erodes credibility and fosters cynicism and skepticism leading to increased resistance to change.

The Answer? Harness the Power of the Current Culture

In making the decision to invest in business process management, senior leaders did what senior leaders do best and that is to solve a problem with a rational, proven solution. After all, it is hard to argue with the merits of improving processes to reduce waste and lower costs. The problem is the solution was counter-cultural and therefore doomed to fail.

Image of group of people discussing a message and the experience.

So, what should they have done? The business reality of needing to reduce costs and increase operational efficiencies remains. The answer is to look for solutions that harness the power of the current culture versus trying to implement one that is doomed to fail. Eventually, the solution may include some degree of process management, but it is not the starting point and certainly not the answer.

In this organization, autonomy and accountability are deeply embedded in the way people work and interact. They are used to solving problems and react badly —- no, resent it — when leaders or people in other groups tell them what and how to do things. To them, this is an indication of a lack of respect and trust in their abilities.

A more effective approach is to present leaders and employees with the business problem and look to them to find solutions. This is not a committee or task force approach but one that empowers people while holding them accountable for the result. In this situation, senior leaders set the stage by communicating the business need (what and why), the boundaries and limitations, and desired outcome in terms of measurable results. The objective is to give people the information and tools they need to arrive at the best possible solution by building on the strengths inherent in the current culture.

Looking for Help with Your Company’s Culture?

Changing culture can seem like a daunting task, especially during periods of growth, but it doesn’t have to be. Culture has a high capacity to help businesses achieve genuinely great things. If you need help defining or improving your business’ culture, check out some of Culture-Strategy Fit’s excellent cultural products and services, or give us a call today at (800) 976-1660 for a free consultation.

Dr. Nancie Evans

Dr. Nancie Evans is co-founder and VP Client Solutions at Culture-Strategy Fit Inc. specializing in the alignment of organizational culture and strategy. She has developed a unique set of leading-edge diagnostic tools and approaches that provide leaders with deep insights into the culture of their organizations, how it is supporting or getting in the way of strategy execution, as well as the levers that they can use to drive rapid culture change.

Culture-Strategy Fit®

Culture-Strategy Fit Inc. is a leading culture and executive leadership consulting firm conducting groundbreaking work in leveraging culture to drive strategy and performance. It’s suite of culture surveys and culture alignment tools are used by market-leading organizations around the world.

Contact Us

www.culturestrategyfit.com

1.800.976.1660
nancie@culturestrategyfit.com

How To Assimilate Remote Workers Into Your Company’s Culture

image showing how to implement a culture change with remote workers.

More and more, companies are turning to remote workers to help boost their revenue. According to a report from SurePayroll, 86 percent of employees say they hit “maximum productivity” when they work alone, and two-thirds of managers say remote employees are by far the most productive. Not only that, but remote workers reduce a company’s overhead and can significantly help drive-down costs. With this shift towards remote workers, how can you help them to feel like they are a part of the culture? Here are a few key ways to help remote workers successfully assimilate into a company’s culture.

Make Them Feel Welcome

Working from a remote location can be difficult – especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships. Being separated from other employees, the feeling of isolation and possibly even loneliness can sink in quickly. That is why it is critical that you go the extra mile to ensure that all your employees – regardless of their physical location – feel a strong sense of belonging in your company.

Make sure that all of your employees understand the importance of communicating and collaborating with your entire team and encourage them to reach out to remote workers and to introduce themselves and chat in a natural way. Bonding between your team is essential for the continued success of your brand – and the assimilation of your culture across various locations.

Managers can help by getting to know remote workers on a personal level. A weekly phone or video call that includes some time getting to know each other can be very effective. Acknowledging personal and family milestones and accomplishments with things like birthday cards and congratulatory notes can also go a long way to helping people feel valued.

Connect Without the Need for Regular Meetings

The key to assimilating remote employees with your in-house company culture is by bridging the gaps that exist between your offices and external employees by establishing regular communication channels.  Once you have established these lines of communication, the next step is to use them regularly.

Technology plays a critical role in successful communication between teams and can be your company’s best weapon.  While many businesses rely on e-mail as a go-to platform, live-video conferencing through Facetime, Zoom and Skype are excellent for helping establish familiarity and eliminate confusion and mixed messages which can result from simple e-mail messaging. Instant messaging platforms are also great for group conversation and allow a level of informality which can help foster positive relationships between teams and reinforce company culture.

Encourage Cross-Collaboration

Cross-collaboration should be encouraged at every opportunity. By empowering and encouraging your employees to collaborate, people in disparate locations can better understand the various people and projects of your company. Not only that, but collaboration is a great way for your employees to better understand each other’s abilities, personalities, and working style; allowing for interpersonal and inter-team relationships to grow and thrive, regardless of location.

Establishing constant (or at least frequent) interactions should be your team’s top priority – especially if they have remote workers. By fostering these interactions, along with strong leadership, you can ensure feedback loops will help improve performance and help your company culture thrive.

Involve Remote Workers in Important Matters

Remote workers often get overlooked when it comes to getting employee ideas and feedback on proposed changes, decisions and solutions to problems. This is because it is faster and easier to ask people who are readily available for their input. The problem is this ignores potentially valuable insights from remote workers and serves to make them feel less valued than people who work at a company location.

While it takes more time and effort to involve remote workers, especially those in different time zones, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Make inclusion a norm by establishing practices that make remote workers part of the discussion. With the technology tools available, this isn’t difficult. It just takes a bit of thought and patience.

Make It Clear How They Make a Difference

People want to do meaningful and challenging work. When they do, they feel more engaged and motivated to perform to their best. A common problem with remote work is compartmentalization. Remote workers are often assigned specific tasks and narrow roles which can be performed, for the most part, independent of others. This contributes to feelings of isolation and raises questions regarding the value of their work.

Providing a clear line of sight from their work to the end-product is one strategy that is very effective in engaging remote workers. When they can see the final product and how their piece fits, they understand how their work is important. This also encourages them to come forward with suggestions and ideas to improve and enhance the end-product. They feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves which is exciting.

Looking for Help With Your Company’s Culture?

Maintaining corporate culture can seem like a daunting task, especially during periods of growth, but it doesn’t have to be. Culture has a high capacity to help businesses achieve genuinely great things. If you need help defining or improving your business’s culture, check out some of Culture-Strategy Fit’s excellent cultural products and services, or give us a call today at (800) 976-1660 for a free consultation.

 

Dr. Nancie Evans

Dr. Nancie Evans is co-founder and VP Client Solutions at Culture-Strategy Fit Inc. specializing in the alignment of organizational culture and strategy. She has developed a unique set of leading-edge diagnostic tools and approaches that provide leaders with deep insights into the culture of their organizations, how it is supporting or getting in the way of strategy execution, as well as the levers that they can use to drive rapid culture change.

Culture-Strategy Fit®

Culture-Strategy Fit Inc. is a leading culture and executive leadership consulting firm conducting groundbreaking work in leveraging culture to drive strategy and performance. It’s suite of culture surveys and culture alignment tools are used by market-leading organizations around the world.

Contact Us

www.culturestrategyfit.com

1.800.976.1660
nancie@culturestrategyfit.com

Losing Faith In Company Culture – How Google Lost Its Way

Google was once the beacon for how a company should operate. Thoughts of Google’s culture often included things like innovation, risk-taking, and a fun, people-oriented place to work. Today, however, long-time employees are losing faith in the company, believing that Google has lost its soul with exponential growth. According to Steven Yegge, a former Google employee of over 13 years, “The main reason I left Google is that they can no longer innovate. They’ve pretty much lost that ability.” He continues, explaining that “gate-keeping and risk-aversion at Google are the norm rather than the exception.”

Of course, risk-aversion isn’t something Google has intentionally sought to create. It’s just part of the problem of growing too quickly and forgetting your core ethos – something we regularly cover here at Culture-Strategy Fit. Growth makes it easy to let the attributes that made your culture special fade and things like risk-aversion slowly take hold.

“A Destructive Culture”

Of course, Google’s cultural issues run much deeper than merely failing to innovate. Google employees across the globe have staged walkouts following a New York Times report detailing millions of dollars paid to male executives over the years as a result of allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment. To make matters worse, the company has been anything but forthcoming about the issue. This is in direct conflict with the company’s founding motto of “don’t do evil.”

Despite apologies by CEO Sundar Pichai and founder Larry Page, the company’s 94,000 employees are becoming increasingly frustrated – and downright fed up – with the corporate culture at the internet giant, feeling too much hush money has been shelled out to silence employees. “We’ve waited for leadership to fix these problems but have come to this conclusion: no one is going to do it for us. So, we are here, standing together, protecting and supporting each other,” wrote several of the organizers in an essay published in New York magazine. “We demand an end to the sexual harassment, discrimination, and the systemic racism that fuel this destructive culture.”

The High Cost Of A Damaged Brand

In losing its way and allowing a culture to emerge that is adrift from its mission and core values, leaders have significantly damaged their personal credibility and Google’s brand.  The cost is very high. It is a good bet that top talent is already looking elsewhere for employment opportunities. Attracting new talent becomes more difficult as people question whether this is the type of place they want to work and brand they want to be associated with. Similarly, with options to choose from, Google risks customers spending their money elsewhere rather than support a toxic culture. Then there is the market. Risk aversion, lack of innovation, hush money and leaders with low credibility do nothing to build investor confidence.

What Can Be Done?

With the recent firings and public apology, Google has taken the first steps toward rehabilitating its image both internally and externally. But this is only the beginning of what needs to happen. According to many disgruntled employees, instead of focusing on customers, Google has become too competitor focused. Combined with a toxic political culture, this lack of focus has suffocated the all-powerful tech-giant from its humble beginnings.

The company needs to decide what it stands for and critically examine all facets of its business model and operations. It needs to identify and eliminate everything that is preventing it from fulfilling its purpose and living its values. This means confronting widely accepted ways of working and making some tough decisions about people, process, structure and so on to ensure Google’s culture thrives and with it the company succeeds today and into the future.

If You Need Help Developing or Sustaining a Winning Culture, We’re Here to Help

The current issues at Google perfectly represent what can happen to any company if it loses focus on its purpose and core values. It’s something that should cause every business leader to pause and check to see if their corporate culture remains true to core values during periods of growth or personnel change.

Maintaining corporate culture can seem like a daunting task, especially during periods of growth, but it doesn’t have to be. Culture has a high capacity to help businesses achieve genuinely great things. If you need help defining or improving your business’s culture, check out some of Culture-Strategy Fit’s excellent cultural products and services, or give us a call today at (800) 976-1660 for a free consultation.

Dr. Nancie Evans

Dr. Nancie Evans is co-founder and VP Client Solutions at Culture-Strategy Fit Inc. specializing in the alignment of organizational culture and strategy. She has developed a unique set of leading-edge diagnostic tools and approaches that provide leaders with deep insights into the culture of their organizations, how it is supporting or getting in the way of strategy execution, as well as the levers that they can use to drive rapid culture change.

Culture-Strategy Fit®

Culture-Strategy Fit Inc. is a leading culture and executive leadership consulting firm conducting groundbreaking work in leveraging culture to drive strategy and performance. It’s suite of culture surveys and culture alignment tools are used by market-leading organizations around the world.

Contact Us

www.culturestrategyfit.com

1.800.976.1660
nancie@culturestrategyfit.com

From Innovation to Stagnation: Has Apple Forgotten Its Core Values

company core values

Once a leader in technological advancement, it seems today that Apple is in a corporate downturn. Where innovation was once rampant, now it seems to have turned to stagnation. What has caused this change in conditions for the industry-giant? Has Apple forgotten its core values?

Apple’s Woes

Apple used to be the brand associated most with industry-leading products supported by excellent customer service. But, as lawsuits have mounted over the intentional slowing of older-model iPhones without first informing customers, the reality that Apple may have turned its back on its clients has finally started to hit home for many. As Forbes Magazine online pointed out earlier this year:

“Perhaps this shift from technology enabling great usability to gimmicky features that risk diminishing it aptly illustrates Apple’s turnaround from purpose-driven innovator to a garden-variety big-name corporate lacking vision and losing touch with customers. Its recent decision to shift all of Tim Cook’s travel to a private jet kind of affirms that notion.”

From Design to Decline

For a company that was formerly the pinnacle of minimalist design-aesthetics and fun, simple-to-use electronics, today Apple seems like a lumbering giant, unable to innovate in the same way it once did. From the colorful iMac to the iPod and iPhones which brought to life Steve Jobs’ vision of ‘creating products that change the world’ and revolutionized how we live our lives, Apple now rolls out a larger screen, or a slightly updated, but clunky interface update.

It’s not only a decline in imagination which has hurt Apple. For years, people trusted in Apple because it offered stability and security. Sure, other phones and computers existed, but they lacked the ease of use and reliability of a Mac. Now, however, Apple’s products are ruined by the briefest hint of moisture – and repairs are frustratingly expensive. On the other hand, other makers offer easier-to-use and much-less restrictive platforms for a fraction of the cost.

Can Apple’s Culture Be Revived?

importance of company core values

Competitors have begun emulating Apple’s success and former inspiration – and are using it against the tech giant. Can Apple recover its mojo? Or is it slowly lumbering towards an inevitable downfall?

Steve Jobs was a huge loss for the company for a number of reasons, not least of which was his vision and ability to motivate and inspire those around him to achieve great things. Equally important, to support them on their quest, he molded the organization…everything it did and the way things were done…to help them succeed.

Jobs cannot be replaced but there is nothing stopping Apple’s leaders from following in his footsteps and intentionally creating the culture the company needs to succeed today and in the future. This begins with a vision and core values that are inspiring and authentic…something leaders genuinely believe in and are passionately committed to. A rallying cry for everyone at Apple.

This new culture may actually be old and refocus on what made Apple the company that changed the world. If this is the case, the first step may well be for Apple to re-engage with their devoted customer base deeply connecting with users to understand how to make their lives better. The second is to re-engage with employees inspiring and motivating them to create something special. The third is to take a good look at all of the different organizational ‘stuff’ affecting the way people work…policies, procedures, rules, structures and so on….and clean house. In other words, get rid of the stuff that is getting in the way of fulfilling the company’s vision and purpose. Make it easy to be great again!

Ensuring your company’s culture survives the upheaval of leadership changes and key personnel departures is critical. Apple has struggled since the death of Steve Jobs. Maintaining a culture through growth and change is never easy, but it’s something every company should plan rigorously for.  In fact, it’s something we like to cover regularly on our blog.

Looking for Help with Your Company’s Culture?

Maintaining corporate culture can seem like a daunting task, especially during periods of growth, but it doesn’t have to be. Culture has a high capacity to help businesses achieve genuinely great things. If you need help defining or improving your business’s culture, check out some of Culture-Strategy Fit’s excellent cultural products and services, or give us a call today at (800) 976-1660 for a free consultation.

Dr. Nancie Evans

Dr. Nancie Evans is co-founder and VP Client Solutions at Culture-Strategy Fit Inc. specializing in the alignment of organizational culture and strategy. She has developed a unique set of leading-edge diagnostic tools and approaches that provide leaders with deep insights into the culture of their organizations, how it is supporting or getting in the way of strategy execution, as well as the levers that they can use to drive rapid culture change.

Culture-Strategy Fit®

Culture-Strategy Fit Inc. is a leading culture and executive leadership consulting firm conducting groundbreaking work in leveraging culture to drive strategy and performance. It’s suite of culture surveys and culture alignment tools are used by market-leading organizations around the world.

Contact Us

www.culturestrategyfit.com

1.800.976.1660
nancie@culturestrategyfit.com

Culture Change: What and Why

Healthy Company culture supported by audience of employees applauding

Culture is something that permeates and affects every aspect of a company. It is more than values, more than people, more than their behavior and more than their relationships. A company’s culture is about its underlying beliefs and assumptions that guide action and that are learned and shared by members of groups as they strive to achieve the organization’s goals and fulfill its purpose.

Culture Change: Getting Off To The Right Start

In order to change or improve upon your company’s culture, you must first understand it, and the only way to understand it is to ask the right questions. If you simply ask employees to describe the culture or tell you how “things get done around here,” you’re probably going to get blank stares. This is where the who, why and what culture conversation can help.

culture conversationQuestion #1 – Who?

Who should participate in the conversation? The answer is simply anyone and everyone – the more the better. Of course, this may not be possible for practical reasons. The important thing is diversity. You want to engage people at different levels, genders, tenure, professions, locations and so on. Ideally, those involved are credible influencers, the people others look to for guidance, as they can spread understanding and help shift the culture if needed. If you can add the perspective of people outside the organization, even better. Outsiders often notice things that insiders are oblivious to. This might include customers, suppliers, analysts or even competitors.

Question #2 – Why?

The conversation starts with generating a whole pile of ‘Why’ questions that begin with ‘Why do we do X this way?’ where X is replaced with descriptions drawn from people’s experience. For example, why do Maple Leaf players stay at a hotel when they are in Toronto for a playoff game? Why do the Leaf’s suspend players who are late for a practice? Why do they have a Father and Son weekend? Generate as many questions as possible and don’t worry about filtering or critiquing them. This comes later. You’re looking for a comprehensive description of the way things get done around here.

Every ‘why’ question has the potential to be meaningful but I like to start with the questions that people want to talk about; where they have the most energy. These are often the ones that are the most revealing. Once you’ve worked through these, you can decide how to handle the others. A word of caution, in an effort to go quickly, people are prone to say that a question is like one that has already been discussed so it can be skipped. A quick test is to go around the room and ask people to say or write down their answers. If something different emerges or views differ, it should be discussed.

As each question is answered, write down the beliefs and assumptions that emerge keeping in mind that people may see things differently. For example, one person might see the Leaf’s Father and Son weekend as nothing more than a perk of the job while someone else believes it symbolizes the importance of family. But, what is ‘family’ and why is it important? You might get to something like we believe a solid support system (including the family at home) is essential for professional hockey players to successfully navigate the good and bad times that all players experience. One way of thinking about this conversation is to recall an interaction with an inquisitive two-year old. Why are you doing that? Buy why? But why? Eventually, you will have developed a core set of beliefs and assumptions. You will know you’re there when every new question results in the same answers or challenges a defined belief.

Question #3 – What?

Chances are good, you will also have a list of ‘why questions’ that don’t fit with the belief system. For example, why aren’t mothers included in the Father and Son weekend? Aren’t they part of the player’s support system? Does this mean mothers aren’t as important as fathers? This leads to the ‘What’ question which is “What does this say about our beliefs?” This conversation is about questioning current behaviors, practices, and ways of doing things to identify inconsistencies that send mixed messages and serve to undermine the culture. It can, however, also raise questions about the core beliefs and assumptions.

What is to say that the outliers aren’t actually better or more appropriate for the organization? This introduces a new line of questioning. It starts with a macro question such as what is our vision, mission and/or purpose? What is our strategy? What do our customers expect/need? Given this, do our existing beliefs and assumptions make sense or do they need to change?

The bottom line is that what worked in the past may not be what is needed to be successful today and in the future. To use an example from the corporate world, an organization may have been successfully operating with the belief that the best way to mitigate risk is through a system of controls that includes restrictive delegation of authority and hierarchical decision-making. But what if the world around them starts to change and they need to be able to make decisions and change directions quickly to remain competitive? The existing belief system now acts as a barrier. Unless this is changed, and with it, related behaviors, practices, and structures, the culture will get in the way of any effort to be agile.

The Importance Of The Why and What of Culture Change

People learn and remember things by being explicit about them. If an employee is doing something in a certain way, say a way that is not ideal for the organization, they may simply be doing it that way because they never thought about it. But when you draw information from people via what and why style culture conversations, you naturally get them to consider their behaviors in a more critical way than they would have otherwise. Moreover, when you come across cultural problems in these conversations people feel they are in part responsible for identifying them, and when people feel they helped to identify a problem, they are more likely to help you fix it. What and why conversations are a powerful and effective technique to help people understand their company’s culture in a meaningful way. Meaningful, especially, in that they can reveal the beliefs, assumptions, and values that are deeply embedded in the collective psyche of an organization.

If You Need Help With Culture Change, We’re Here to Help

Changing corporate culture can seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. Culture has a high capacity to help businesses achieve genuinely great things. If you need help defining or changing your business’s culture, check out some of Culture-Strategy Fit’s excellent cultural products and services, or give us a call today at (800) 976-1660 for a free consultation.

Dr. Nancie Evans

Dr. Nancie Evans is co-founder and VP Client Solutions at Culture-Strategy Fit Inc. specializing in the alignment of organizational culture and strategy. She has developed a unique set of leading-edge diagnostic tools and approaches that provide leaders with deep insights into the culture of their organizations, how it is supporting or getting in the way of strategy execution, as well as the levers that they can use to drive rapid culture change.

Culture-Strategy Fit®

Culture-Strategy Fit Inc. is a leading culture and executive leadership consulting firm conducting groundbreaking work in leveraging culture to drive strategy and performance. It’s suite of culture surveys and culture alignment tools are used by market-leading organizations around the world.

Contact Us

www.culturestrategyfit.com

1.800.976.1660
nancie@culturestrategyfit.com

Managing Company Culture in a Growing Brand

company culture

The goal of any brand is to experience continual growth. But, how does this expansion affect the inner workings of the brand and the company itself? How can you make sure that your company’s culture, or ethos, can survive rapid growth? Or can you? Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure your culture survives rapid change. Here are some useful tips for managing company culture in a growing brand.

Culture Change and Growth

First things first. Business leaders all too often mistake the superficial for the important. This is especially true when it comes to company culture. Sure, you may have video games for employees, and your dress code is relaxed, but if that’s what you think company culture is, you’re in for a rude awakening.

When companies scale up, they often try to retain an aesthetic sense of their old self without maintaining their original ethics or the personnel that led to growth in the first place. Then, once they’ve grown, the leaders will look around and notice the company is missing “something,” but can’t figure out what.

What that “something” is is the culture of the company. So, how can you help to prevent this “something” from disappearing?

Plan Ahead

The best place to start when it comes to maintaining a corporate culture is by having a sound plan of attack. Knowing your goals and having a clear idea of how you plan to achieve them allows you to anticipate problems which may occur and provides the foresight of knowing how to react to changing circumstances.

When you take the time to strategize your company’s culture, consider the following critical questions:

  • How are you planning to help your team grow in both knowledge and capabilities?
  • How are you ensuring your team both understands and performs to your expectations?
  • What’s your plan to keep your team’s mind and heart focused on your company?
  • How do you make sure your team is feeling valued and appreciated?

By considering these fundamental questions, you not only establish a system of trust but also provides a thriving working environment where your team can flourish professionally and enjoy long-term loyalty

managing company cultureHire Rigorously

Growth often means that leading team members shift their roles. This is especially true when it comes to hiring new employees. As companies increase in size, key management figures may change their focus from interviewing prospective team members to overseeing various departments. Once these crucial managers are no longer involved with candidate interviews, the personality of any new hires will differ from the previous standards. This shift in employee hires can quickly dilute a brand’s culture by hiring for labor purposes instead of organizational fit.

The hiring practice isn’t just about filling seats. The very future of a brand rests upon the quality of its hiring practices. By adopting a well-defined and disciplined hiring procedure, you can ensure you get the very best fits for the position – and your company. The right hiring procedure starts by treating every prospective candidate as a prospective employee. Show them you value their time – it goes a long way in showing them how your brand values its employees. You should also avoid decisions based on gut instincts. Take the time to get to know the candidate and how they see themselves fitting into your company – and see if that conforms to your vision.

Avoid Employee Churn

As hiring processes change a company’s culture, employee turnover increases. As turnover increases, key members of your original team may seek new opportunities. Employee churn and rigorous hiring methods go hand in hand. When a company grows, make sure that current personnel is retained over new hires. Those jumping ship are often unsure of their new role within a fast-changing corporation or feel isolated or under-valued as a result of the new ethos or hiring procedures. Value your team and hold on to them. They are the embodiment of your company and your brand – cherish them. There will always be turnover at a company. It’s how you handle this turnover which dictates if a company’s ethos and culture wither or thrive.

If You Need Help Developing or Sustaining a Winning Culture, We’re Here to Help

Maintaining corporate culture can seem like a daunting task, especially during periods of growth, but it doesn’t have to be. Culture has a high capacity to help businesses achieve genuinely great things. If you need help defining or improving your business’s culture, check out some of Culture-Strategy Fit’s excellent cultural products and services, or give us a call today at (800) 976-1660 for a free consultation.

Mergers & Acquisitions – The Case for Culture

In 2015 a global Fortune 100 company asked us to conduct research to determine if including culture in merger and acquisition due diligence and integration activities would be a worthwhile investment. Interviews were conducted with seven of its leaders involved in both large and small acquisitions in five regions of the world. We probed to find out what was working and not working in recent acquisitions and what support or tools would provide value.

The research findings clearly indicated the need for a consistent, practical approach that leaders, HR/OD and integration team members can use to identify culture synergies and tensions. The result was the development of a set of culture tools that were integrated into merger and acquisition due diligence and integration activities. This article summarizes the key findings from this research.

Is Paying Attention to Culture a Worthwhile Investment

The research revealed that without a disciplined approach to culture assessment, the company faced rapid erosion of the value of its acquisitions. Loss of critical talent, lagging productivity, compliance and risk management issues and delayed integration were just some of the issues described by leaders when culture was not on the agenda as part of their M&A due diligence and integration planning.

Understanding Cultural Differences affects the Success of M&As

The degree of effort invested in understanding cultural differences affected the success of the acquisition. While some acquisitions moved slowly and carefully in order to ‘not break what is working’, others followed an aggressive timeline. The less attention that is given to culture, the higher the risk of problems during integration such as:

  • The acquired company was not prepared for the level of compliance and metrics that the company demanded and almost lost all of their key employees in the first 3-6 months.
  • Serious compliance issues were experienced due to a difference in beliefs regarding the need to follow rules.
  • Unclear communications and high volume of integration-related activities disrupted work and put the retention of top talent at risk.
  • Misalignment in what people were told to expect and what actually happened resulted in 50% of staff at one acquisition, the best people, leaving the company.

Where People are Key to Success, a Culture Assessment is Essential

Leaders said a culture assessment was essential for all acquisitions where people are key to success.

  • Some leaders couldn’t think of a case when it isn’t needed while others thought that it is vital where human capital is key to value.
  • There was some agreement that where product lines or contracts are the purchased asset, culture only needs to be monitored and a quick scan approach could be sufficient.
  • For companies that are founder-led and start-ups where culture shock can quickly impact productivity and retention of employees and customers, leaders believe a culture assessment process is vital to success.

A Culture Assessment Prevents Many M&A Pitfalls

Leaders indicated that a culture assessment could have helped avoid and/or be better prepared to address challenges often encountered during a merger or acquisition. Specifically, it could help them to:

  • Identify non-negotiable areas that lead to No Go decisions earlier (i.e. lack of high ethical standards).
  • Predict problems and avoid early missteps by better understanding the impact of decisions before implementing them.
  • Develop a robust integration plan that prevents loss of asset value (key accounts, top talent).
  • Improved ability to sequence and phase integration to minimize disruption of work.
  • Understand people’s appetite for change and tailor change management and communications plans accordingly resulting in less angst, resistance and attrition.
  • Build communications that explain why and what will happen that connects with people and will be heard.
  • Manage expectations and set a pace of change to manage risk.
  • Create opportunities to gain the buy-in and support of acquisition leaders and other critical resources thereby decreasing the risk of attrition.

 

M&A Culture Assessment is Key to Success

Identify Cultural Differences Early in the Acquisition Process

Leaders believe culture should be assessed, when possible, early in due diligence to no later than 30 days after close to get the maximum benefit.

  • Pre-close was ideal to provide input to the decision to move forward with a deal.
  • Post-changeover efforts are valuable inputs to integration plans.
  • Even later in the process, culture tensions can be identified and addressed.

Sponsorship by Business Unit Executives makes a Difference

Leaders emphasized that active business unit sponsorship was very important to ensure players are aligned and doing what is needed for the acquisition to be successful. Examples were provided where direct intervention by the senior executive led to better decisions and prevented actions that were detrimental to the success of the acquisition. For example, senior executives:

  • Slowed down integration activities that were disrupting the business and affecting acquisition ability to achieve financial results.
  • Delayed implementing changes until there was a better understanding of the potential impact on the business.
  • Acted as an advocate for the acquisition when decisions were being made by functions.

Involve Leaders of the Acquired Company Immediately After Close

It is critical to engage leaders in the acquired company as soon as possible after the close, preferably on Day One or, at the latest, within the first 30 days. In addition to building trust and strengthening relationships, this helps the acquirer to learn why things are the way they are and understand the implications of potential changes. This would also allow for the timely communication of integration plans to employees, which is important to reduce anxiety and maintain productivity during the transition. Engaging leaders is most effective when the acquirer:

  • Spends time with local leaders and their teams, not just senior leaders.
  • Uses focus groups to engage employees and get their input to change plans.
  • Provides clear communications about the rationale for the acquisition and plan.
  • Engages department heads of both businesses in the culture dialogue.

 

The Outcome – A Set of Culture Tools for M&A

The outcome of this research was the development of a set of culture tools to support the M&A process.

  • Culture Due Diligence process and tools that are used in the early stages of due diligence.
  • Culture Integration process and tools for identifying cultural similarities and differences, including areas of synergy and tension.

Used pre- or post-changeover, the tools provide due diligence and integration of team members, HR and top leaders with the kind of information needed to support decision making, communications and transition planning.
With a streamlined process and a small set of highly informative tools and processes, the client now has an M&A culture game plan for more effective integration planning that will protect the value of the asset.

Download a copy of this article here.

The Amplifying Effect of Leaders on Company Culture

Role of Leaders on Company Culture

Leadership is the primary driving force behind company culture. In a thoughtful piece for the Harvard Business Review, Jim Whitehurst, the CEO of Red Hat, one of the leading providers of enterprise IT products and solutions, argues that changing a company’s culture isn’t easy, but involves changing how the employees of that company behave and think. “Culture,” he argues, “is a learned behavior, not a by-product of operations.”

Leaders Shape Company Culture

Leaders play an integral role in this process, influencing company culture through their own words and actions. As Whitehurst puts it, if you want to create an “innovate” culture, you can’t simply decree “go innovate!” It is the combined product of embraced behaviors of the entire corporation from the top down.

Companies like Amazon are excellent examples of creating a thriving culture of innovation.  They have implemented an organizational model where employees aren’t afraid to fail. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, and CEO has instilled a core-belief of innovation and risk-taking amongst his employees. Bezos has stated if his employees have a one-in-ten chance of making a one-hundred-fold return on an investment, they should make that bet every time. This acceptance – and even embracing – of failure has promoted the innovate culture that continues to drive Amazon today.

What Can Leaders Do to Enact Change?

When it comes to driving culture change, leaders play a critical role. This begins with using their behavior to set the tone for what’s acceptable within a company. This is especially true for start-ups, such as Amazon. “The moment you found a company, culture comes into the conversation,” says Lisa O’Keefe, Senior Advisor of Talent and Engineering Culture at Pritzer Venture Capital. The Management and Culturemore that leaders can share a company’s core values, the more likely that according to O’Keefe they will “become a reality and not just these random words uttered without meeting or random quotes on a wall.” The key according to Nancie Evans, VP Client Solutions at Culture-Strategy Fit is to be authentic while at the same time living the values consistently day in and day out…no exceptions and no excuses!

Enacting change, or instilling values, can only occur with a proactive drive from the top. By identifying and consistently acting in a way that makes your core beliefs and aspirations real, it is possible to create genuine change in an organization. Taking a vested interest in helping employees grow and thrive, for example, can create more motivated employees and boost production. This investment in the development of “human capital” goes a long way towards creating a culture of engagement, inspiring all within its structure and forming a discernable company ethos.

Similarly, as more leaders realize that their employees can provide valuable insights into their corporate culture, they can encourage employees to become an ambassador for their brand through social media channels. This creates not only publicity for the brand which helps to attract new talent, as well as a sense of solidarity and ownership in employees but also has the benefit of increasing the authenticity of social media posts.

Inspiring cultural change can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. If you need help defining or improving your business’s culture, check out some of Culture-Strategy Fit’s leading-edge cultural products and services, or give us a call today at 1-800-976-1600 for a free consultation.

 

 


 

How To Improve Your Company’s Culture In 6 Simple Steps

company culture image

You can’t overestimate the importance of your company’s culture. The problem for companies with a bad culture, however, is that it’s a very difficult thing to change. Here are 6 simple ways to dramatically improve your company’s culture.

Articulate Your Company’s Vision

A company’s leaders must clearly understand its vision before staff can see how they contribute to its success. A company’s vision includes it’s core values along with what it wants to achieve and become in the long term. The problem is that many times executives formulate their company’s vision into overly grandiose statements that do not ring true to employees. You should craft a short, concise vision statement that every employee understands.

Host More All-Hands Meetings

We can never over-communicate the big items enough. The company values, metrics, goals, successes, learning’s, vision, mission…these should be talked about all the time. It’s even more power to do so in a group setting. You should also try and include food at all-hands meetings. Make it something employees look forward to rather than dread. The family that breaks bread together stays together. Buying food is a small price to pay for a great company culture.

Be Transparent

Transparency isn’t just positive for employees. The effects of a transparent company culture impact the entire organization and the people it serves. Transparency means giving your employees unfiltered insight into the company’s operations and future. It means giving employees a voice. And, most of all, it means trust. Because trust is truly the foundation of a great company culture.

Implement More Structured One-On-One Feedback.

The quarterly or annual performance review is often the only formalized setting for managers and employees to exchange feedback. That’s nowhere near enough. Begin setting up fifteen min one-on-ones with your team on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. You should also make yourself available to employees for quick little meetings in-between the weekly/bi-weekly meetings. These brief in-between discussions can do wonders to defuse the little issues and problems that typically spiral into larger issues later on. Don’t let a molehill become a mountain!

Build A Network Of Appreciation

You should make an effort to praise people for their good work publicly and criticize them privately. Public congratulations show employees that their work is being valued and having meetings that are of a more negative nature privately shows that you respect their dignity. Don’t try and embarrass people or hold back on the praise when praise is due.

Embrace And Inspire Employee Autonomy

No one likes to be micromanaged at work. Micromanaging is not only ineffective and inefficient but it’s poison to your company’s culture. You should trust the people who work for you to properly manage their own time and tasks responsibly. If not, why are they working for you? Measure quality of work not the number of overtime people put in.

There you have it, 6 simple ways to dramatically improve your company’s culture. For more help creating a great culture for your company visit Culture Strategy Fit today!