BUILDING AN ENDURING CULTURE

Context

2020 will go down as a memorable year for many of the wrong reasons. But some companies will have endured better than others, and typically (although admittedly not always) culture is a reason. Turning it around, few (if any) companies with a strong culture will have suffered compared to their industry peers during this time. 

How to build an enduring culture

So, if you wish to remain resilient, there are a number of steps you can go through to ensure your culture is a real asset during turbulent times…

1. Communication

Top-down is no longer acceptable, it is vital that every employee is heard. Employee voice is vital and you have to both have the tools to allow it to be heard and the culture to listen (and more importantly act).

2. Leaders lead

Culture doesn’t necessarily start at the top — but the behaviour of your leaders can kill a culture quicker than anything else. A new CEO (for example) that does not live (and is seen to be living) the values, will quickly demonstrate to everyone that they can be ignored. 

3. Values aren’t just demonstrated by behaviours

Recognising people who exemplify the values is important, but ask yourself — does every policy and process support (if not promote) them?

4. Recruit for culture first, skills second

Culture fit can be a misnomer (and even a straight-jacket). Not every employee should be a cookie-cutter copy — after all, that would stifle diversity. But they do need to believe in the values. 

5. Treat everyone the same – and as individuals

This is the dichotomy for HR. How to be even-handed whilst treating everyone differently? It’s a balance, and is focused on personalising the standard whilst retaining the core messages. We are all different, so give us options in how to do things where possible.

Summary

Culture east strategy for breakfast is a well-worn saying. But like so many cliched phrases, it exists for a reason. And never has it been more prevalent than in times of change or turbulence. Keeping a focus on your culture will help you endure through challenging times — as employees will find a way to help you through it.