Recognition of the importance of organisational culture seems to be increasing on a daily basis. About time too, as it is clear that strategy and culture go hand-in-hand if business performance is to be managed effectively.
Despite this, the majority of leaders tend to focus more on the strategy side of the equation than the culture side.
Perhaps this is because strategy is easier, more tangible and more connected to their technical expertise?
Perhaps it is because culture is less tangible, more complex and more challenging?
Regardless of the cause, the plain fact is that organisational leaders need to give strategy and culture equal importance. So what can they do differently?
One thing is for sure – just thinking about it will have little impact so we need to take action. As Richard Pascale wrote In his book Surfing the Edge of Chaos – “People are more likely to ACT their way into a new way of thinking, than THINK their way into a new way of acting.”
So let’s consider 5 simple ACTIONS that leaders can take to improve their organisational culture, knowing that taking these actions will lead to a new way of thinking:
- DEFINE THE BEHAVIOURS you need within your business – behaviours that, when consistently demonstrated, will have a clear impact upon business performance
- PROVIDE POSITIVE FEEDBACK to those that role model the culture you aspire to and provide directional feedback to those that do not
- TALK ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF CULTURE and strategy at every opportunity. Let people see that you are passionately interested in both WHAT they are doing and HOW the are behaving
- USE CULTURE EVERYWHERE. Embed culture into your business processes – use it to recruit, promote, evaluate, develop and engage your people
- TEST IT WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS and ensure that it delivers their expectations. Tell your people about how customer perceptions of your culture drive customer retention, recommendation and value generation
Talking about the importance of culture and not doing anything differently is counterproductive. People will quickly become confused as they try to decide whether to follow your words or your actions.
Instead of talking about culture, DO something today, tomorrow and every day thereafter to embed and drive the culture you want.
If you don’t, nobody else will.