6 Advantages Cultural Transformation Can Carry To Your Group
What is culture
Culture can be elusive because it consists largely of intangible values such as shared identities, values, unwritten rules and stories. However, culture is stronger than virtually any other factor in determining employee behavior. Culture guides what people do when you are not looking, when nobody is telling them what to do. It determines how they deal with each other and with your customers, providers, the community and the environment. It determines what you prioritize and pay attention to. That way, they’ll jump when it matters, regardless of what’s in your company policies and press releases – and regardless of what strategic goals you’ve carefully crafted and communicated.
A dysfunctional culture is actively uncomfortable and counterproductive. A poorly defined culture leaves employees with a conflicting understanding of what is valued and expected, what is otherwise counterproductive. A strong, healthy culture can bring people together to achieve high performance, achieve strategic goals, become the corporate citizens they want to be, and much more.
Here are 6 fundamental and transformative benefits transforming your culture can bring to your business.
1. Coordinate culture and strategy
In our organizations, defining and refining strategies usually gets a lot more attention than culture. Still, the two are closely related.
A Harvard Business Review Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture  summarizes the relationship between strategy and culture:
Strategy provides formal logic for corporate goals and orients the people around them. Culture expresses goals through values and beliefs, and guides activities through shared assumptions and group norms.
The authors then repeat the famous quote: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
That’s because people instinctively internalize the culture around us. We adopt the colors, the conversation and the path of our tribe. We have all been navigating the tricky social world of unspoken rules since we were born. We know gut instinct that when a leader says “do this” but everyone around us is doing something different, the safest way to follow the herd and avoid trouble is.
However, when a manager announces a strategic goal and paints a culturally resonant vision to match, the employees “understand” it. If that vision is also inspiring and offers identity and purpose, then employees will do everything possible to achieve that goal.
If people in your company are not inspiring and inconsistent with corporate strategy, pay attention to your culture.
2. Align employees at all levels and across functions
Culture not only aligns people with goals, but also aligns them with one another. Culture provides a framework of core values and core priorities in which to work. This means that employees do not have to pause and argue about which values and priorities are really important – that is already clear. Once you’ve set a goal or direction, you no longer have to micromanage what employees do or give directions every time they get stuck. Instead, employees can apply their own ingenuity and understanding to situations. You will find more diverse ways to contribute, collaborate, and solve problems to achieve goals.
Especially when you have a blended organization of mergers and acquisitions, deliberately maintaining a culture that draws on the strengths of each contributing company can bring great benefits in terms of alignment and performance.
3. The right people: recruitment, retention and selective sales
Clear identity and culture attract and hold onto people who resonate with this identity and thrive in this culture – or at least can tolerate it. Obviously, if it’s a positive culture, the pull will be much stronger and you will have more top candidates trying to work with you. If you already have a positive culture and want to make the most of it with new hires, here are some tips on how to incorporate social learning into your onboarding.
While employees who thrive in your culture will certainly stay, employees who don’t will stay. You may lose some great people, but if they fail to bring their great excellence to fruition in your company, it is better to make room for someone who can be great around you. If you want your organization to be the first choice for both recruits and current employees, cultural change can be of great importance in terms of identity, inclusion, and personal contribution.
A strong identity, a clear sense of purpose and the camaraderie to work together towards common goals promote a sense of belonging and job satisfaction, higher motivation, less burnout, fewer absenteeism and better physical and mental health.
For me personally, these things make work a pleasure. And who wouldn’t prefer to work among people who are excited to be there? These are benefits that money literally cannot buy directly, either on an individual or organizational level. However, improving the culture can change that.
When your staff’s morale is low, a program that focuses on cultural elements to foster connection and purpose can have a huge immediate impact.
5. Succession planning and continuity
Culture is, by definition, greater than any individual. A strong, positive culture makes it easier to assess the fit of different candidates during succession planning. And when a successor shows up – be it a team leader or the CEO – cultural continuity makes the transition easier for him and the entire company.
To make your succession planning more resilient, invest in basic cultural elements that outlast a leader, strategy, or market trend.
6. Long-term dividends
A strong culture continues. When a cultural element has permeated all levels of an organization, employees at all levels will continue to live from that culture and will continue to hire new employees for many years to come. Changing deeply ingrained negative cultural elements can seem daunting. It requires deliberate, well-designed interventions with reinforcement at multiple levels applied over time. The good news is that systematic change is possible and positive cultural changes will not only differentiate your company, but will also pay off over many years.
Where do you want to go?
What is your goal or wish for your organization? To make diversity, equity and inclusion something you do every day instead of just talking about it? To be so innovative that you become a market disruptor? To turn all of your teams into resilient, high performing teams?
Regardless of whether your goal is big or your problem is big, look for cultural changes to make gains that you might not otherwise be able to achieve.
 The executive guide to corporate culture
Obsidian creates custom, interactive learning programs that engage learners, accelerate skill development, and increase overall business performance. We are a team of professional learners with a passion for creating effective learning experiences.