HR managers know better than anyone that a healthy culture is foundational to a company’s success. And of late, there’s been no more popular subject in HR than what constitutes a healthy culture and how to improve an unhealthy or even toxic one.
But company culture is only one aspect of an organization’s ecosystem. And while it’s true that a company with a toxic culture will do poorly over time, it doesn’t follow that a successful culture inevitably leads to success in business.
That’s why the next step in the conversation about company culture is how to align it with business goals—and the more explicit the connection, the better.
Lots of organizations have been persuaded of the importance of culture, but “what most executive teams typically fail to do,” according to Paul Leinwand, Global Managing Director at PwC’s strategy consulting business, Strategy&, “is to connect the company’s culture with how the company makes its strategy work.” Culture determines how employees interpret business goals. If you don’t understand the relationship between the two, you can’t improve culture or performance.
So, while CEOs are usually comfortable with HR taking the lead in implementing culture initiatives, the division, whether it’s a department of many or a team of one, “rarely plays the all-important role of ensuring that the culture is fully or purposefully aligned with the strategy.”
But the symbiotic relationship between culture and strategy means that those tasked with managing company strategy need to be on the same page as those managing and driving company culture.
Trying to overhaul company culture without considering how that will affect the execution of business strategy can doom the culture efforts—just as updating the business strategy without understanding how the culture will affect its implementation can lead to a failed strategy.
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