Company Culture Blind Spots: How They Can Sabotage Your Company’s Growth
Written by Jeff Hughes, on July 30, 2021
“If your values are clear, your decisions are easy.” – Phil Richards, insurance and financial services icon
Midsized companies want to grow. But sometimes, their corporate culture and values can thwart that desired growth because either they are not clearly defined or in some cases wholly unknown to both managers and employees alike.
Without a clear statement of values crafting a vision, and mission statements, an otherwise well-conceived business plan may fail to reach its stated objectives. This is because the commitment to success is not deeply grounded in a common belief system throughout the entire organization.
Resistance to accountability and a lack of follow-through is often the Achilles heel of successful business plan implementation. A strong values statement sets the table for leadership to better manage culture and the business planning process.
However, having a clear and well-formulated statement of corporate values will strengthen the likelihood of successful business plan implementation. Such a written statement may include but are not limited to, integrity, candid interpersonal interaction, and an embrace of two-way constructive criticism.
The question is then… what set of values is right for your company? Which values match your overall belief system? Which ones will result in employees’ enthusiastic buy-in?
They will be different for every organization…
Once values are agreed upon at the top, they need to be explained to all managers and employees by leadership.
For values to be meaningful, they must be embraced by all and modeled by leadership. These values set the rules of the game for worksite interpersonal engagement, mutual respect, honest conversation, and peak performance. A solid values statement sets the tone for what will make or break a healthy and productive company culture, one where employee engagement is beyond question.
Company culture is the aggregate of the behavior of the people of the organization over time. Strong, integrated, and well-communicated values heavily influence how and what that company culture becomes. To make any meaningful improvement in your business, some things have to change for good and that includes the willingness and ability for leaders, managers, and employees to live with the ambiguities and own their responsibilities to make change happen. These behaviors are what strong values better ensure for the company.
But making transitions of this type present a tall order for some people. Experiential group training on values, culture, and change can help, but not everyone will go along. Realize and accept that fact. Over time, these individuals will likely self-select themselves out of the culture. They will just be too uncomfortable. (To that point, I highly suggest the book Working Without a Net by Morrie Schectman.)
To avoid a revolving door, the statement of and discussion about company values and culture should be part of the new hire interview and orientation process. An active mentorship program will help reinforce the values of the organization and help assimilate the new employee into the work environment. Similarly, a supervisor who embraces and demonstrates the organizational values will underscore the expected behaviors of their direct reports.
Changing someone’s values is a daunting proposition. Values are hardwired, based on life experiences, and learning from an early age from family, so bringing people aboard who embrace yours will make for a more productive and successful career and make for more congenial inter-personal relationships. There are many benefits to singing from the same sheet of music!
If your company has never had a values statement, bringing employees around to internalizing your values may be a challenge. It’s something new and different. The leader should expect some collateral damage in the form of turnover from those whose values do not conform with those of the company.
The transition will take time, but there can be no negotiating the company’s stated values. It will become quite apparent who enthusiastically embraces company values and those on the fringe and beyond who may not. The introduction of a values statement is fundamental to maximizing the probability of success in implementing a One Page Business Plan or any other planning system. A values statement and its spread throughout the organization is part of the necessary preparation of the organization for the change to structured business planning and its implementation.
Starting with a committed team reduces the drag and friction of having a disengaged or dysfunctional group of employees who will slow the process of or sabotage business plan implementation.
Values and culture are inherently linked and together set the stage for a smooth transition to a unified and more disciplined approach to getting important work done. Otherwise, the leader can only hope that the process will work, and likely, will create a struggle between those who fight change and those who naturally embrace it. We might call that chaos!