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Culture Wins the Battle Over Strategy

Culture Wins the Battle Over Strategy
January 10, 2015 Ronin Marketing

As Daniel Patrick Forrester so aptly said,
“culture is today’s major performance differentiation.

Company culture may often be perceived as a non-essential by-product of good management and organisational structure, but when we investigate culture a little closer, we can very quickly see that companies who lack a strong and motivated culture struggle harder and are negatively affected by the deficit. Culture creates the foundation for strategy and will either be a company’s greatest asset or largest liability. While culture has many aspects and manifestations, at its core there should be a clear sense of purpose and shared values that guide decision making across the company.

Let’s analyse a few culture fundamentals to understand how they significantly impact the growth or demise of any company.

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Behaviour

Behaviour is a tricky one to master since it can be like an unsuspecting contagious flu that spreads throughout your company before you can even reach for a tissue. Every company promotes independent thinkers who will excel in every task and put forth new ideas, but when this free thinking is adversely affecting the company’s thriving culture through outspoken opinions of everything that is lacking, annoying, dysfunctional, and pointless within your company, it can rapidly seep into every well-intended strategy. Employees need to constantly be reaffirmed with positive company growth, and validated as individuals for collective success. When employees see that everyone is striving for the same vision, and that their opinions and ideas are important, it creates internal cohesion and boosts productivity.

Values

Every company needs to have a strong set of values and a clear vision for the path they envisage the company to follow. Making sure that employees are aligned with these values is imperative. Conducting a training session to instil values in unenthusiastic staff will have a very different outcome to actively employing professionals who already resonate with your core belief system during the interview process. Culture cannot be taught. It is something that can be developed and cultivated, but only if the core basics already exist. When entrepreneurs keep their company aligned with their values, they attract talented people and inspire employees to work hard and drive the company forward.

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Change

In order to succeed, companies will constantly be improving strategies and techniques. Often these improvements can be perceived as a confusing change if employees are not guided through the process correctly. It can create unrest, uncertainty, and a noticeable decline in productivity. Make sure that you properly inform your employees of the expected changes; allow them to discuss any uncertainties, fears, etc. that they may be experiencing; and ensure that regular review processes are maintained to confirm that everybody is embracing the change in a way that is aligned with the company’s vision.

With any change, a shift in culture will occur. Companies need to be mindful of these changes and implement any additional strategies needed to maintain a strong, cohesive culture. By altering and strengthening the culture, an organization can thrive amidst any change.

Performance

The very suggestion of change can make people within organizations uncomfortable because it is rarely an easy process. This can often result in an unintentional decline in daily performance and work ethic. Companies need to conduct a series of meetings that include all employees wherein evaluation and synthesis of opposing viewpoints can be addressed. Setting aside adequate time to discuss how change will affect employees makes all the difference and leads to a higher-performing culture.

Culture is the backbone of any organisation. And if we use the analogy of the spine to drive our point forward, it’s this: Poor posture on a daily basis may not allude to any significant symptoms at first, but neglect it for long enough and soon you’ll be unable to sit, stand, or walk properly. Similarly, culture may seem like an insignificant focus area for your company. Employees get the job done because they are told to. But in time, you will begin to notice that your company is arching over in a direction you did not intend and a lot more strategy is then required to rectify the curvature.