How culture drives business—and why it warrants your full attention

An organization thrives or fails because of its people and their collective understanding and embrace of its mission. Here’s how to cultivate and sustain that alignment.

How culture drives business

Is culture accidental, a simple byproduct of the way work is done?

Perhaps at one time it was. Today, however, corporate culture is a hot topic of discussion not only in HR but also in the boardroom. Culture is increasingly a strategic imperative, purposefully designed for organizational success.

From personnel to human resources to employee experience, leaders responsible for the human side of business continue to find new ways to deliver a competitive edge that generates results, market share and increased valuations on Wall Street.

Culture comprises an organization’s values and the people who bring those values to life. Strategic talent acquisition is key to the successful care, feeding and nurturing of culture.

Ask yourself these key questions:

  • Is your organization committed to its culture?
  • Perhaps by revamping the entire process of recruiting and onboarding employees?
  • What about your diversity efforts?
  • Are you enhancing the pipeline by widening your networks to recruit the most qualified candidates regardless of gender, race, age and sexual orientation?
  • Once they’re hired, are you providing training to managers who need help and the additional support they need to leaders who can benefit from coaching?
  • Is there agreement on how to achieve that culture and the behaviors your leaders and the organization must exhibit?
  • Do the strategic elements of your desired culture align with the employee experiences within your organization?

Analytics and data-driven insights help organizations evaluate potential leaders based on experience, skills and other measurable merits, which can then assist with mentor pairings and provide insights that inform policies.

The drivers that support organizational values and help build a sustainable culture attract the talent needed to remain competitive and expand the business. HR has long known that talent drives business and that culture attracts and retains talent.

Transparency of the employee and candidate experience—through sites such as GlassdoorThe Muse and Kununu—reflects what the culture is. On a similar note, showing alignment between expressed culture and employee experience strongly supports the employer brand.

You can ensure proper alignment through processes that support a terrific experience throughout an employee’s tenure.

For example, avoid a form letter rejection for senior leader candidates you interview. Examine why a manager whose attrition rate is triple that of other managers remains in the role. Consider the impact a reputation with vendors might have on the employer brand.

More key questions:

  • How do your customers respond to your organization; are they treated the way senior leadership envisions?
  • What causes applicants’ lack of follow-through—ghosting even?
  • Why are offers rejected by candidates you really want to hire?

If you believe these issues are singular, look deeper. Be ruthlessly honest about the alignment among organizational values, culture, employee experience and your employer brand.

Ultimately ask: What do employees want?

Employee-directed resource groups attract people based on common interests. They provide a platform to advance business initiatives. Consider an employee advisory council to solicit feedback on planned programs or changes in policies—and be prepared to act on the input.

Data and information, as well as candid communications, support leaders and give them insight into the operations of an organization. Likewise, employees benefit from continuous feedback.

Effective organizations and managers communicate regularly, with timely suggestions geared toward improved performance. High-performing cultures, built on transparency and open communication, attract managers who commit their time, energy, and behavior to support the success of their people.

Doing so enhances the leadership pipeline and ensures employees are aware how their contributions support the bottom line.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner of Keystone Partners. A version of this post first appeared on TLNT.

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