“Culture can eat strategy for breakfast every day.” Is this really true in today’s business environment? Will prioritising purpose and people within in a company really increase profitability and longevity for your business or is it just the PC thing to say?
This week my early morning reading included McKinsey.com’s interview with Vipul Chawla, group CEO of Singapore’s largest supermarket chain. It feels like he says all the right things. He gained insight into all levels of his business by starting his CEO journey working in the various departments, such as being a cashier and packer in a distribution centre. This has led to an empathetic approach to leadership, personnel and customers and a strong focus on company culture.
In a competitive environment and in tough economic times, we might forget about the importance of company culture, but that might just be an expensive mistake. Having a strong company culture isn’t all about monthly teambuilding sessions and after work drinks. It does, however, expect that everyone who makes up your business are on the same page. The culture of the company reflects the values and purpose that everyone has to understand and believe in. This implies that conflict, challenges or tough feedback happen within a safe environment – almost like what you’d expect from a well functioning family.
It seems that in today’s market place, companies that manage a culture that aligns with their business objectives and the values of their employees have a great advantage.
Why is organizational culture so important?
- When employees are engaged, committed and passionate, they form a meaningful connection with your business and this has a long-lasting positive effect. (Read more)
- Satisfied employees are more productive as they take ownership and are more efficient and dedicated. They engage with the product and the people and are invested in the success of your business.
How to ensure a strong and healthy company culture?
- Focus on employee well-being – this directly impacts productivity and culture.
- Offer work flexibility – a choice empowers workers and the result is better efficiency and employees with a happier work-life balance.
- Be inclusive – embracing, retaining and fostering a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion is essential.
- “Before skill set comes mindset.” When employing someone new, it is much easier to focus on the skills, training and experience. Mindset might be harder to determine, but it is so important. A recent study reports that 91% of managers consider alignment with company culture more important than skills and experience. At the same time workers also focus on more than the salary, days of leave and pension fund when considering a new position. According to another study, 35% of American workers would refuse a job if they don’t feel their values align while 71% would look for a different opportunity if the company’s culture deteriorates.
- Training and development are essential investments. Mindset might be important, but skills can’t be ignored. In a quick-changing environment with cutting-edge technology, the fourth industrial revolution and artificial intelligence, most lines of work require employees to evolve and have a wider range of skills.
Has the employee dethroned the customer as king? There’s so much talk about the employee’s expectations that one might wonder what has become of the outward, customer focus? Of course, companies need good employees, but don’t you sometimes feel like the current focus is so much on staff, that we don’t get to strategy? And without putting words in his mouth, I think this was Chawla’s whole point.
When employees feel part of the business, empowered and valued, they will do a better job. And isn’t doing a better job, the simplest, but ultimate understanding of strategy?