From the Blog

What happens when you align culture with strategy

We’ve talked about culture a lot. We know what culture is, but what happens when you align it with your strategy?

A lot, actually. Culture is the single most important factor in organizational success or failure.* Your strategy matters — and culture drives it. And we’ve got the numbers to prove it. Companies with intentional cultures can see 756% net income growth.

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It’s kind of a no-brainer to align your strategy and culture. So what does that mean?

It means you thread culture through everything you do – every policy, procedure, benefit, perk, even your office setup.

Here’s what it looks like when you align culture and strategy:

A health technology company with a focus on innovation and collaboration built a team-oriented culture of health that drives its strategy. Everyone works in an open-plan office, the leadership team is accessible, they hold walking meetings more than conference room pow-wows, and the culture is woven through their policies, procedures, benefits and people system (right down to the interview guide to evaluate candidates for cultural fit).

Maybe it’s easier to see what it looks like when they aren’t aligned:

A technology company with a large number of customer service employees advertised that its personalized service sets them apart from the competition. Yet they cut back on training for these employees, increased the span of control for service supervisors and took away valued benefits. These employees believed they were second-class citizens and not valued in the organization.

Employees need to get the culture “message” you intend them to get. Here are some ways to help them align their behaviors with your strategy and culture:

  • If one of your cultural attributes is honesty, reward employees who share authentic feedback.
  • If one of your cultural attributes is curiosity, reward employees who attend a webinar to learn something new.
  • If one of your cultural attributes is relaxed, reward employees who meditate or practice other stress-relieving exercises.
  • If one of your cultural attributes is health, reward employees who schedule walking meetings.
  • If one of your cultural attributes is growth, reward employees who take steps to reach their full potential.

 

Want to learn more? Download our new e-book!

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  • What culture means and looks like
  • The ROI of performance-enhancing culture
  • How to be a culture architect — 10 ways

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Read all of the posts in our culture blog series.

*Corporate Culture and Performance (2011), Kotter and Heskett