Your company may need a culture management strategy.
A culture management strategy will benefit your business even when things are relatively stable. But, you will definitely need a strategy to keep your culture strong through growth, mergers, leadership changes, and other tough transitions. Here are 6 common culture shocks that can derail your business, and tips for managing through them:
1. A merger, acquisition, or restructure
Nothing causes culture shock quite like this. For employees going through a merger, acquisition, or organizational restructure, it can feel as if the rug’s been pulled out from under them. So many things change, and changes happen fast. To emerge with a stronger culture, rather than a discordant culture, you need a culture integration strategy. This involves highlighting and understanding all the cultural dynamics at play. A culture measurement tool can help you see the cultural impact of the changes you’ve made, and identify key differences between your different operating groups. Over time, you’ll be able to measure the progress of culture integration and take steps to support a strong company culture, as well as strong subcultures.
2. Change in leadership or organizational strategy
Leadership sets the tone for organizational culture. When there are changes at the executive level, culture shifts often follow. To proactively manage these shifts, business leaders needs a way to assess their current culture, and track progress toward their new cultural vision. A culture measurement tool can compare the executive team’s aspirational culture to the current culture (as experienced by employees) to identify areas where the greatest shifts need to occur. Measuring the culture fit of candidates is also essential—you’ll be able to see how new hires will help move you toward your desired culture, rather than keep you in the past.
3. Hyper growth
Culture is dynamic, and by constantly adding new employees, organizations can severely dilute their culture. If you had a strong culture before a period of hyper growth, you may find that culture significantly changed, and significantly less effective than it was before. Culture dilution has also proven to negatively effect employee engagement, performance, and retention. So how do you scale your business without deteriorating your culture? You must have a dedicated effort on reinforcing the values and underlying behaviors that drive success in your company. With a culture measurement tool, you can monitor for culture dilution, see where it’s happening, and identify values that are decreasing in relative importance. It’s also important to measure candidate fit to ensure you’re hiring people who share the values of your desire culture.
4. Diversity & Inclusion initiatives
There are many dynamics at play within a culture that can inadvertently undermine your diversity and inclusion efforts. The first step is understanding organizational attitudes toward diversity and inclusion. You can do this by measuring cultural behaviors such as tolerance and collaboration. With a culture measurement tool, you’ll be able to see the relative importance of tolerance as compared to other priorities or values that employees perceive as important in your organization. You can also measure perceptions within diverse populations to see if these groups experience culture differently than others in your organization. Only then can you work to harmonize culture across diverse groups and confirm that your diversity and inclusion initiatives are effective.
5. Issues with engagement, performance, or turnover
Culture strength is a direct predictor of employee engagement, which in turn predicts performance and retention. Weakly aligned cultures consistently experience more issues with engagement, performance, and turnover. Whether these issues are pervasive across your company or higher within certain segments of the business, a culture measurement tool can reveal areas of cultural disconnect and help you diagnose the underlying cause. Without visibility, you will struggle to enact positive change. How you hire also impacts on your ability to ‘plug the leak,’ as alignment between personal values and organizational values has proven to enhance engagement, performance, and retention. By measuring candidate fit, you can ensure alignment from the get-go.
6. Defining or refreshing organizational values
Because culture is rooted in organizational values, step one of any culture initiative is understanding what those values are. Values set the expectation for how work gets done within your organization, and values drive the behaviors behind all of your business operations. Rather than choosing words simply because they sound important, like INNOVATION or INTEGRITY, use a culture measurement tool to survey employees and see the values that exist in your organization today. Then, use that insight to align your work practices with your existing values, or build a strategy to shift your values. Either way, a bottom-up approach to defining values will foster an environment where employees are more connected to the culture and feel a sense of ownership.
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To learn more about culture management strategy and best practices, download our infographic: 4 Pillars of an Outstanding Company Culture