“Organisational culture eats strategy for breakfast” ~ Peter Drucker
The modern organisation is fighting battles on multiple fronts; evolving with rapidly changing digital demands, battling against political and economic uncertainty, and meeting the often polarising requirements of today’s multi-generational workforce, whilst increasingly trying to respond to unexpected demands, opportunities, and challenges.
With change set to only further accelerate, companies are seeing the need to be agile as their top priority, and enabling a more collaborative workforce has become the critical business precursor for such success. But creating a culture that promotes such preferred behaviour doesn’t simply happen because you demand it from your staff, nor does it take place if you invest in more break-out spaces or table tennis equipment.
In fact, the key for organisations to bring about greater agility and collaboration, and attract and retain core talent, is by igniting a shift in culture – and being able to properly articulate the DNA of the company.
But creating a corporate culture that carefully aligns the needs of the business with the needs of the employee is no walk in the park. According to McKinsey’s latest survey of global executives, organisational design and culture are the most significant self-reported barriers to digital effectiveness.
Here’s how an organisation can focus on their ‘DNA’ in a way that its employees actually care about:
Diagnosing your cultural DNA
Upon introduction, “workplace culture” seems like a particularly intangible notion to get your hands on – attitudes, ideals, shared values and beliefs don’t quite have the same ring to them as ROI. But when you look at the science behind culture, the notion is nowhere near as fluffy as it sounds.
Diagnosing your current workplace culture – or perhaps more importantly, what you want your culture to be in the future - typically requires some deep soul-searching at a senior level – taking the time to consider why your business exists in the first place, and what it is that you’re trying to achieve. Even then, ask a C-Level member to articulate what they want their culture to be and the response is a few words or a blank face.
In Morgan Philips Group Company DNA workshops, we don’t focus on ephemeral, invisible values that end up being emblazoned on posters and stuck on a website. We adopt a more pragmatic, tangible approach - because to change you must first measure.
We task key stakeholders to map out organisational challenges to individual and company-wide mindset that the company faces on a day-to-day basis from a strategic perspective. This process helps organisations to look at their existing culture, where it needs to be, and how you can bring about change.
It is common for organisations to revert back to type and old operating norms when things become busy that are not suitable in the new world of work. For instance, a business might wish to improve their overall customer service experience, or create a can-do attitude amongst staff, and share this plan with their team but, when things heat up, this objective goes out of the window.
Organisations can instill the demand for better customer service or a can-do attitude into their culture by attracting and developing people with certain behaviours, and aligning those people with the core objectives, the company’s purpose (rather than vision) and the psychological contract between the employee and its employer. In this way, organisations can overcome the change barrier and reduce the ‘change pain’ that is the common bedfellow of transformation.
Creating a culture: from caring to cut-throat
The definition of a good or bad workplace culture depends entirely on what it is your company has set out to achieve.
A stock trading company might benefit from breeding a highly-competitive workplace culture, for example. But compared to the environment of a digital marketing agency, where collaboration and peer-to-peer relationship building are considered fundamental, an overly-competitive culture might be seen as toxic.
It all comes down to the collective of individuals. People have different preferred ways of working. How we set about solving problems or coming up with new ideas, or even what we expect from our work environment and employer all comes down to personal mindset.
While expertise, experience and technical skills are crucial for an individual’s success in a role, long-term business success, cultural alignment, motivation and role-person fit are just as important yet typically overlooked. A person’s mindset directly impacts their approach to tasks, challenges and opportunities, and how they handle success, failure and relationships with others.
In order to change or improve a corporate culture, a shift needs to take place at an organisational level as well as at an individual level.
Scientifically designed by business psychologists in partnership with leading experts in the digital industry, the PULSE MINDSET™ tool helps organisations utilise mindset in individual talent selection, development and deployment and team formation and improvement.
Focusing on the individual rather than the organisation, PULSE MINDSET™ examines preferred working styles and preferred work environment features. By matching people with work environments, jobs and organisations at this level, companies can improve employee engagement, commitment, productivity, effectiveness and effort, whilst at the same time aligning their approach to a more agile response to demands and opportunities.
Leadership: the trickle-down effect
When broaching the topic of workplace culture, it would be amiss not to mention one of the most influencing factors in creating or redefining a culture is the organisation’s leadership.
Essentially, workplace culture comes from the top and trickles down – meaning your senior management team’s preferred practices and leadership styles will ultimately determine how your employees feel about working there.
If the leadership isn’t collaborative – this cultural shift won’t take place. This is becoming particularly important as organisations begin to adopt flatter structures, where there is a need to have a shared sense of purpose and understanding of conduct at all levels.
To find areas of improvement and potential derailers, PULSE MINDSET™ is being applied to whole leadership teams to look at their group mindset and gain a better understanding of how they can work in a more optimal manner and derive more suitable solutions to new types of opportunities that come through the door.
Defining your current and end-goal culture, and utilising tools such as PULSE MINDSET™, will help you to form a team based on the mindset you’re wanting to create, and will result in a more collaborative group with complementary perspectives in which each member can leverage the approaches and attitudes of others to result in a wholly effective team unit.