Building a strong, global culture seems an obvious step in ensuring company success. But it can be easy to become lazy about your culture, assuming it will continue along well without intervention or oversight. This is simply not true. As I’ve said before, culture is like a bonsai tree. It can take years to shape and grow into what you want, but mere seconds to destroy.
Today, I’m sharing wisdom from three executives who know of what they speak on the topic of company culture. Together, they lay out the three steps needed to create and maintain the culture you need to achieve your success objectives.
1) Define the culture you need for success by aligning cultural attributes with strategic vision.
Cultures necessarily vary by organization. Clearly defining that culture, then aligning its attributes (desired behaviors, communications, workplace environment) with company’s strategic goals helps employees more easily contribute to achieving the objectives – especially when those cultural attributes are regularly and positively reinforced through frequent, timely and specific recognition.
Ernst & Young Executive Director in the Americas Advisory Customer Practice, Barbara Porter, shared this wisdom in Forbes:
“So, how do you create a culture that engages employees and delivers financial results?
“First, leaders must acknowledge that culture and employee engagement are their responsibility. Rather than simply focusing on HR, entitlement or employee happiness, companies must create a culture that aligns peoples’ intrinsic values and behaviors to the guiding principles of the organization. Culture is the driving force within every organization, department and team.
“An intentional culture specifically aligns the environment, communication and emotional drivers to a company’s strategic vision and brand. To build a culture that supports the brand experience, leaders must bring the corporate vision to life and help employees’ link what they do every day to the key elements (values, objectives, goals, key performance indicators and behaviors) of the organization’s guiding principles and strategy.”
2) Make sure culture is consistent globally.
It’s not enough to allow local cultural “pockets” or silos to continue. Driving an intentional, consistent culture across all locations is what drives real success.
Tom Erickson, chief executive of Acquia, explained more in a recent New York Times “Corner Office” column:
“I went into France to build our business there. I thought I had hired the right guy, and he started to explain to me that France was a different market, and that the French are different. I let him persuade me that the kind of people we had to hire were different. The whole thing collapsed a year later, and I had to make tremendous changes.
“Building the culture and the way you go to market need to be consistent, no matter where it is. I used that lesson many years later when building the business in Japan. People would try to tell me, ‘We need to do things differently here.’ I’d say, ‘No, this is how you stay on message, on target.’”
3) Be sure executive leadership drives the cultural push.
Both examples make it clear leadership needs to drive this alignment. Indeed, it is only executive leadership that can enforce a truly global, consistent culture, but the benefits are worth it.
China Gorman, CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute, explained why in an article in Fortune:
“‘The world’s best workplaces face the daunting task of creating ‘one workplace culture’ from the myriad of local cultures in which they operate,’ Gorman says. All successful organizations or companies have mastered the art of creating this culture. These organizations take in talented people, mold their identities, and assimilate them into their organization’s way of life.”
Do you have a consistent, global company culture?