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Unlock business potential by actively shaping your company culture

A new, or adjusted business strategy often necessitates changes in behaviours. Changing behaviours require shifts in mindsets and organizational culture. Understanding our culture - why we behave as we do, our values, and belief systems - puts us in a stronger position to adjust our culture to achieve desired outcomes. Managing your culture purposefully is key, and if you want to check the current role of culture in your organization, you can use the following statements:

  • Management acknowledges the importance of culture for success.
  • The purpose of the culture is clearly defined.
  • The desired culture is well-defined.
  • Compliance with the desired culture is regularly assessed.
  • Procedures for handling cultural deviations are clear.
  • The organization has an effective plan to foster the desired culture.
  • Leaders understand their role in shaping the desired culture.
  • Recruitment practices ensure new hires contribute to the desired culture.
  • Performance management reinforces behaviours in line with the desired culture.
  • There is an ambassador network that support culture work.
  • There are channels where employees can give feedback on the culture.

- Depending on the outcomes of this assessment, consider adopting a more deliberate approach to culture management to support your business strategy. Often, management teams may wonder why the desired results aren't achieved despite communicating a new strategy. In many cases, the answer lies in underestimating the impact of culture, says Karin Allergren, Senior Consultant at Influence People.

Understanding culture

Culture is shown in the behaviours that are encouraged, discouraged, or tolerated over time. We read the signals about what it takes to fit in, or get rewarded, and we adapt our behaviour accordingly. Culture is shown in what is valued in the organization: Where time and money is spent. What gets priority in times of pressure. Who is favoured, and why. Culture is also found in systems and processes. You might genuinely want to adopt a new set of values focusing the customers, but if your systems mainly collect data about your products, this will not help a customer centric culture grow. All these elements must be dealt with in an integrated approach to build the culture you want.

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Culture Management

By identifying and promoting behaviours that align with strategic objectives, organizations can effectively manage cultural change, and the benefits are manifold:

Strategic Alignment: Fostering a culture of innovation can directly support a strategy focused on product development and market leadership.

Performance Improvement: A culture that encourages open communication and knowledge sharing can enhance decision-making processes.

Risk Mitigation: A culture that emphasizes ethical behaviour can reduce the risk of legal issues or damage to the organization’s reputation.

Employee Engagement: A culture that encourages behaviours such as continuous learning and collaboration can increase employee engagement, leading to higher productivity.

Customer Satisfaction: A culture that prioritizes customer needs lead to improved customer relationships and business success.

- Knowing what kind of behaviour that would most likely deliver a certain outcome is one thing. But how do you make people change behaviours? We all know how hard that can be, Karin continues. Supporting structures and processes are part of if it, and encouraging and rewarding the right behaviours goes a long way. If you are persistent and diligently measure and follow up, change will happen over time. But sometimes, if results are slow, it can be useful to dig a bit deeper and investigate values and deep-rooted belief systems within the organization.

Values and beliefs

In an organization aiming for “one culture”, the collective good is prioritized over individual or subgroup interests. This can be challenging for organizations with a matrix structure, as they need to balance horizontal and vertical interests. The extent to which information, opportunities, and resources are shared becomes crucial. A specific managerial behaviour is the willingness to allow valuable employees to transition to different business areas, welcoming new individuals in return. This often necessitates a personal inclination towards holistic thinking, generosity and sharing, rather than focusing on individual gains. The personal values managers hold in this case can significantly influence the ability to create “one culture”.

By addressing people’s values and beliefs, organizations can overcome resistance to change and facilitate the adoption of new behaviours and practices. For example, if you want a more innovative culture, behaviours you encourage are experimenting, for people to speak their minds and challenge status quo. For this to happen employees need to have beliefs like “if it ain´t broke, break it anyway” which is something totally different from the original saying, or that “not knowing” is a sign of strength, not weakness. An innovative culture requires a willingness to have a go without all the information, to take controlled risk, if leaders in the organization are risk avert, innovation will be hard to achieve. Looking into what beliefs are predominant in the organization will give you a clue on why innovation is not happening. In summary, values, and beliefs, just as much as behaviours, play a pivotal role in shaping an organization’s culture, influencing its operations, and contributing to its overall success.

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Do you want to know more?

Do not hesitate to reach out to learn more on how we work with organizational culture to achieve business results.

Karin Allergren, Senior Consultant, Influence People.

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