In 2022, I began assisting businesses align their cultures with their strategic plans. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
If you ask management to describe the culture of their workplace, their views will be different from the views of the people in the trenches – sometimes dramatically different. That’s important because the view from the trenches is the actual culture of the workplace. The challenge is to close the gap between management’s aspirational view of culture and reality.
Culture is often a legacy from past leadership. But what worked historically may not work today for many reasons. Your pre-pandemic culture may no longer speak to a hybrid workforce. Without measuring the current state of your culture, you won’t know, and you can’t correct a problem that you don’t know exists. If your culture doesn’t align with the values of your distributed workforce, research tells us that people will lack engagement and underperform.
Chances are good that you’re asked to describe your culture when interviewing potential hires. If you don’t have data-informed information, your answer may simply reflect management’s view. Accordingly, your answer may be unintentionally inaccurate. It doesn’t bode well for your new hire’s longevity if reality doesn’t mesh with your answer. No one likes to feel that they’ve been had.
Last, sometimes “cultural fit” can be a barrier to diversity and inclusion. That is, do people have to fit within your entrenched culture, or does your culture allow for a diverse workforce that enhances your culture? Research shows that members of diverse communities have a higher preference for WFH where they can be themselves and not worry about fitting in. If you want a culture that offers a sense of belonging to all, you must take intentional, data-informed steps to shift in that direction.
Since becoming a culture coach, I’ve learned to understand why management guru Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” I’ve learned that an informed and intentional approach to culture is foundational to your business’s success.