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How to make organizational culture a business conversation, not an HR conversation

In episode 6 of the Talent Playbook Podcast, we’re joined by Tony Bridwell, author, speaker, and the Chief People Officer at Ryan, LLC. With more than 2,300 employees, Ryan is the world’s largest tax consulting company, and #71 on this year’s Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For.

What’s the secret to becoming a Best Company to Work For? Bridwell says it’s about putting your people first. At Ryan, people are first on the company’s “big four results,” followed by clients, revenue, and IBITA. Here’s why, according to Bridwell:

You take care of your people. Your people take care of your clients. Your clients provide revenue, and if you run the business well, then you get an IBITA.”

Bridwell says that these big four results drive every decision he makes. “If I’m not hiring the right people and I lose them in 6 months or a year, that costs the firm money, which hits bottom line. From a revenue standpoint, I lose connectivity with clients, it hurts productivity, and the people experience is bad. A bad hire hits every one of my key results. Same goes for development and total rewards. If I lose people because they’re not being developed, or because the compensation isn’t right, it hits every one of my key results.”

Bridwell continues by saying that the conversation about talent and people at Ryan is a business conversation, not an HR conversation. When it comes to driving business results, the formula at Ryan is “Structure follows strategy—and culture supports it all.” Here’s how Bridwell puts it:

“If you don’t realign the structure of the organization to deliver the business strategy, you’ll end up ‘muscling a result.’ This happens so frequently. There are organizational structures that haven’t changed in years, but each year there are new strategies. People understand the strategy part because that’s what they’re taught in school. But rarely will they modify the organizational structure to deliver that strategy, and almost never will they check and adjust the company culture. When I meet with the COO and CEO at Ryan, we’re constantly talking about the cultural barriers  that will prevent us from delivering our business strategy.

The single largest strategic initiative in our firm this year is our cultural reset. We are completely resetting our company culture to deliver the biggest growth we’ve ever seen in our firm’s history.”

Read more about Tony Bridwell’s work at tonybridwell.com, or listen to the full interview on the Talent Playbook Podcast.

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