Companies have opened up globally and are now managing several teams onshore and offshore. The primary priority of these companies is to keep everyone aligned when it comes to business goals. However, it can be quite challenging to keep a team’s company culture, especially when everyone is working from home.
The framework of a successful organization is built on culture, objectives, and strategy alignment. Everyone in the team should be on the same page when it comes to building strategies to meet a particular goal, and it cannot be done if a part of the team is not culturally inclined. “Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with a passion.” – Brian Chesky, Co-Founder, CEO, Airbnb
How can a company encourage their teams to engage in cultural alignment and be open to discussions for meeting their goals? When do businesses fail to orient team members with regards to cultural alignment? Let’s take a look into the specifics of company culture. Specifically, how it can be situated accordingly while teams all over the world are working from home.
When Do Companies Fail To Align Culture?
In 2017, a study was conducted by INSEAD (Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires), Board Agenda, and Mazars on how leaders discuss and implement corporate culture in the workplace. The panel was composed of 450 board members from companies in Europe. They discussed strategy, financial performance, and corporate culture, in that order. The top three determinants were employees, customers, and risk events.
There were three top findings from the study:
- One out of five board directors say that they are addressing cultural issues in the company enough.
- 50% of the panel says that they have been transparent on how they want the culture to develop in their company, but only a fifth declared that they prioritize culture in their company.
- Half of the panel says that there is a gap between culture and strategy and that they have not fully considered aligning the two. The other half says that they have been prioritizing culture in their company.
This study, despite being limited to the UK and Europe, shows that many company leaders have let cultural alignment take a backseat. They have not been able to bridge the cultural gap between themselves and their team members.
Before we move on to determine ways on how to align culture in the company, let us first determine the four types of culture within an organization.
Company Culture is defined as the organization’s personality, which plays a major role in the teams’ overall satisfaction. It is built and developed by shared practices, values, and attitudes of everyone in the company, including the leaders. It is often mistaken as the core values of the company, as defined in the handbook, but not everyone agrees with the handbook. Core values should serve as a guide to aligning culture within the organization.
This type of culture focuses on people. It is determined by high employee engagement, a family-like environment where each person is valued, and communication is a priority. Everyone collaborates on developing company strategies, and leaders have an open-door policy.
You read that right, it’s adhocracy. This type of culture thrives on innovation, where every member of the team is encouraged to bring something to the table. All ideas are meshed to create one big idea, which may seem like a risk. Employees are motivated with the thought of their suggestions being heard and considered.
Each team member is driven towards success, but this type of culture is based on results. The main goal is profit, regardless of employee satisfaction. It can sometimes feel like a chore to flourish professionally since team members are pressed to perform to meet quota. Table discussions and meetings revolve around profit and sustainability.
“We try to have the kind of a culture that doesn’t value excuses in the sense that when you’re supposed to accomplish something, and you’re at a high level, then your job is to accomplish it, in spite of difficulty. And you’re rewarded for dealing with that.” – Phil Libin, Co-Founder, former CEO of Evernote
There is a clear divide between superiors and regular employees in this type of culture. The organizational structure is followed strictly when it comes to communication and information dissemination. It’s good in the sense that there is a structure to follow, but this type of culture does not allow much room for creativity. It is basically a company-first type of culture.
How To Align Company Culture
Keeping the four types of organizational culture in mind, here are a few tips to align culture with strategy within the company.
1. Organizational values
These include people management, incentives, risk management, and performance recognition. Leaders such as CEOs, managers, and supervisors should be the first to practice these values and show their consistency to everyone so that each employee can follow suit. Once these values trickle down, the company culture will align, shaping each team member for pursuing company goals.
2. Risk-taking and transparency
These include auditor relationships, internal control, whistleblowing practices, levels of commitment, managerial consistency, accountability mechanisms, and policy application. Employees will be able to feel the rewards and sanctions of each action, which in turn will help them determine risk levels.
3. Accountability and trust
Regardless of the position someone holds in the company, they should be held accountable for their actions. Transparency among team members, whether employer or employee, will help everyone interact openly. There should be a foundation of trust to encourage everyone to act professionally.
“We believe that it’s really important to come up with core values that you can commit to. And by commit, we mean that you’re willing to hire and fire based on them. If you’re willing to do that, then you’re well on your way to building a company culture that is in line with the brand you want to build.” – Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos
Over time, the company should have a timeline to follow regarding goals, strategies, and internal and external growth. The leaders will be determining the timeline points and setting goal achievement. Sustainability refers to long-term employee engagement and company growth.
These include aligning individual values, handling challenges, subcultures (formal and informal), identity building, decision-making, and peer pressure. Leaders once again step up as role models for everyone in the company, and the way they connect with company assets and employees will be mirrored through the organization. Leaders also encourage their subordinates to succeed individually and professionally.
How To Promote Culture in the Workplace
Here are a few ways to promote culture to gain alignment within the company.
1. Openness is key.
Leaders having an open-door policy is not enough. During meetings and town hall, it’s best to actively express that even the intern can come in anytime and speak to their supervisor or manager. The hierarchy system doesn’t work much anymore, especially in a hybrid workplace.
“Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company.” – Brian Kristofek, President and CEO, Upshot
2. Communicating information.
People cannot work well with limited information. It’s time to scrap the system that only leaders get full access to information that could shape the company and gear it towards success. A company that allows its employers and employees to communicate openly with each other will have internal growth and stability.
3. Make the company vision and mission the foundation.
It’s not enough to just have a mission and vision written in a handbook. Often, those words are passed off as pretentious, especially if leaders are not practicing what they have written. Rewriting the company mission and vision to align with current goals can make a difference to both leaders and team members. Make the mission and vision the foundation of a company culture that is strong and well-aligned.
“Determine what behaviors and beliefs you value as a company, and have everyone live true to them. These behaviors and beliefs should be so essential to your core, that you don’t even think of it as culture.” – Brittany Forsyth, VP of Human Relations, Shopify
4. Employee engagement.
Leaders should be the ones to take initiative and involve their employees in everything that happens within the company. A company shareholder bowing out of a contract? Let the common people know. They have as much a right to know as the CEOs. They might even offer ideas on how to save the company from losing face because of a shareholder leaving.
Also, allow culture to thrive in a remote setting by having activities for everyone to participate in. Take a day off (not a weekend) from the workweek to set up a remote meeting that does not involve company matters. Allow employees’ family members to participate, even the dog. It will definitely put leaders in a new light as someone the employees can connect with.
How To Measure Employee Satisfaction
There are ways to gauge employee satisfaction. Here’s how to do a temp check on team members:
1. One-on-one meetings
Leaders can set up a person-to-person meeting with each employee just to check up on them and see how they’re faring during the pandemic. It can also be a way to check if they’re still good with working from home.
Surveys are a surefire way of checking if employees are still satisfied with how organization leaders are running the company.
3. Suggestion box
Have each employee submit their ideas and suggestions. It can be anything, from suggestions for better leadership to asking for more incentives. It’s a good way for leaders to check if they are missing anything.
Aligning company goals with the culture within the company is a great way of raising employee engagement. If everyone is on board, the company will show growth despite having teams from all corners of the world. A remote work environment should not stop a company and its leaders from promoting a great culture. When goals are aligned with culture, employees will express satisfaction and even perform better professionally and individually.
Up Next: The Future of Work in The Ecosystem Economy
You may not be aware of it, but businesses are part of an ecosystem economy of sorts. It’s an economy where your value is not reliant on what your business can do as an individual, but rather how it can benefit other businesses as well. This means the partners and suppliers you choose to work with—and the way you work with them—will be key to thriving in the next phase.
Given the situation, there are changes on how you should interact with regards to your supply chain and delivery system. We talk about this and more on the next installment of our Future of Work Blog series.
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