We've all heard the saying "You are what you eat".
The same applies to the world of business. In other words, your actions, attitudes and values (culture) will determine what gets done and how it gets done (strategy).
Does it matter?
Culture refers to the beliefs and behaviours that drive our relationships and dictates how we do business. It exists in any business regardless of how many people are employed (and that includes sole traders). Does it matter? Absolutely!
For example: If you want to position your business as offering better service than the competition, but you are always late because you over-promised, or don't return phone calls quickly because you are busy with other customers, or you have spelling errors in your emails because you were rushing, or ...... the list goes on. The underlying culture will eat your strategic positioning for breakfast like a ravenous lion.
When Culture Dines Out
In times of change, culture comes to the fore. That change may be driven by a conscious change in strategic direction, or as a response to the market. As soon as you see an increase in sick days, or after meeting meetings (where you discuss what happened in a meeting), or a reduction in productivity, or an increase in errors, you can bet your bottom dollar there is dissonance between the culture and the strategy.
3 Steps to creating a Healthy Culture
Changing an organisation’s culture is no mean feat. This is because culture comprises an interlocking set of goals, roles, processes, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions. However the good news is studies show there is a direct correlation between a positive organisation culture and the bottom line.
- Start by inspiring your team, partners, suppliers and customers with the vision or purpose for your business. Steve Jobs was quoted as saying Apple's vision was to remove the barriers to learning [how to use a computer]. Your vision is much bigger than what you sell. For example, Whitelaw Weber's vision is to enrich families and communities through successful business. This is far more inspirational than saying we help businesses with their financial performance.
- Identify the capabilities, roles, measurements, training, processes and strategies needed to deliver that vision. For example, coming back to the business that wanted to create a strategic positioning of better service but was undermining this with how it actually behaved, this business needs to:
- Invest in technology so it can be more responsive, manage workflow and manage customer expectations
- Ensure the customer-facing team had the right tools, training and support to deliver the best service
- Create Key Performance Indicators to track service levels
- Reinforce good behaviour and discourage bad behaviour. We use a model called OARBED:
- Ownership is encouraged
- Accountability is encouraged
- Responsibility is encouraged
- Blame is discouraged
- Excuses are discouraged
- Denial is discouraged
Food for thought!!!
"Companies with a higher purpose are more profitable than those that just think about the bottom line."