9 Sep, 2018

How To Make The Culture Shift

Question: What does a great culture eat for breakfast? 

Answer: The strategy and culture of your organisation.

There has long been a debate about which is more important, the Strategy or the Culture – and, in so many businesses I’ve been invited to help, the senior managers have locked on to the strategy.

And why not? It is Specific and measurable and achievable and…. you know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Most of us had SMART drummed into us very early in our careers. And let’s face it, ‘Great Culture’ is the opposite of a SMART objective.

As far as I’m concerned, however, your strategy is the arrowhead which takes you to your goals but without the fletching which culture provides, your arrow will go all over the place. Your culture is what makes your strategy fly true.

So, as a leader who is committed to your business strategy in order to hit your goals, you need to go to work on your culture and you do that in three ways:

  1. Vision – clearly expressing the culture you want in a way that everyone can understand. If you want a culture where ‘everyone loves to work here’ take the time to find out what that would look and feel like to everyone.
  2. Articulation – reflecting that desired culture in everything you do – from style of your marketing to the way the offices are cleaned.
  3. Example – your role is to create leaders in those around you but you have to go first. This is often the greatest challenge for management. They want the great culture but see it as something they ‘do’ to their people and seem unwilling to change themselves. So, if you want your teams to ‘love working here’, you are going to need to work on making them feel valued, on listening to them and on behaving in a way that takes the new culture forward.

If you can do this, then you will unlock the discretionary effort in your people and they will become a part of the mission to drive your strategy forward.

Four steps to create a winning culture

1. Watch the interview with Jon Sellins about changing the culture at Earls Court and Olympia. 

2. If you were to change your culture what would you want your customers, suppliers and staff to say about the organisation?

3. Ask your own teams the simple question, “What is it like to work here?” and listen carefully to their answers. 

4. What can you, as a leader do, to build on the positive aspects your people have told you about and address some of the negatives? 

Have you been part in a culture change in your business? Or do you have other advice to give leaders looking to make the change? And how do you see the connection between Strategy and Culture working together?

Share you experience and understanding below and join the debate. 

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