Peter Drucker said that culture eats strategy for breakfast, however, I would like to add to that, every day and twice on Sundays. Strategy is extremely important, however, a culture that empowers is a surer way for your organisation to succeed.
The pandemic has brought so many organisational issues to the fore, and I don’t think that companies are dealing with those issues in a strategic way. Yes, I see that the words “strategy and culture” are trending right now, however, I think that there is a big kink in the link between these two action words.
A strategic plan should be an actionable document that is easily readable, simple to communicate, and easy to implement. Some companies engage in a strategic planning exercise and the document is so big and complicated, that it never comes off the shelf. Your plan should not be filled with pages and pages of complicated stuff. If it is, then it becomes a prime target as a dust collector. It appears that there is a full understanding of the why, but the how is still an illusion. I think we fail at the how because we fear change; we are afraid of technology, we are afraid that robots will take our jobs, we are afraid to hire skilled persons and outside consultants to help close the gaps. We fear the very things that can propel our organisations forward.
I read a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article that said AI (Artificial Intelligence) is not the issue, but rather, culture is. We should not be afraid of robots; I think we should be most afraid of what our organisational culture can do to the robots. Culture is the way we do things. It defines how we treat each other; how we treat our customers and how it affects the economic position of the organisation.
I know that the massive exodus from jobs have companies scrambling to fill positions, but what I equally know is that there are lots of qualified and talented people looking for jobs. Just before the pandemic hit, we conducted some interviews for a client and when we spoke to the candidates what stood out for me, was the way the candidates said there are treated before, during and after the interview process. I understand that managers and specifically HR managers are busy, but when you disrespect a candidate, it goes to the very heart of who you are as an organisation – your culture.
We are now beginning to refine our approach to human resources, but in our Caribbean context, human resource departments are viewed more as administrative rather than strategic. How many companies have HR at the strategic level? Most of these positions are at best mid-level. Your people are who will take your organisation to the next level, so it becomes imperative that you have a culture that speaks directly to that – your culture must demonstrate that you value your employees. So many of our organisations still practice this top-down approach to management that it becomes difficult for them to listen downwards.
So many organisations operate within a toxic culture, a culture that adversely affects productivity and engagement and then they wonder why their bottom-line needle is not moving. For an organisation to effectively execute its strategic objectives, its culture must be in line with those objectives. You must walk your talk. If your core values are about valuing employees, respect, honesty, equal pay for equal work, and diversity, then you must demonstrate those values. Today’s job market is an employee’s market, so if you want to attract top talent and become an employer of choice, then there are some important steps that you need to take, and it starts with your culture.
Let your culture lead.
Wishing you success on your culture journey!