Peter Drucker once said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” All the strategy in the world can’t make up for employees who aren't committed to the organization's goals or don't have the tools they need.
Curt Coffman and Kathie Sorensen know this and elaborate, in their book titled (with a nod to Drucker), Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch
, saying, “The brand promise may be crafted at the strategy level, but it is the organization's culture that either delivers or breaks that promise.” Simply put, it takes the right culture and the right direction to make the right things happen.
But culture isn’t just a cool office or on-the-job perks. It goes much deeper than that.
Shawn Parr, in the Fast Company
article (by the same title), writes, “A strong culture flourishes with a clear set of values and norms that actively guide the way a company operates. Employees are actively and passionately engaged in the business, operating from a sense of confidence and empowerment rather than navigating their days through miserably extensive procedures and mind-numbing bureaucracy.”
Culture, then, is an environment – good or bad – which reflects the values of the organization and which fosters the behaviors to match those values.
So, how do you create the right culture for your organization?
The April issue of the Harvard Business Review
lays out some pretty helpful steps. The essentials defined in Ashwin Srinivasan and Bryan Kurey’s article, “Creating a Culture of Quality” are:
- Leadership Emphasis
- Message Credibility
- Peer Involvement
- Employee Ownership
Although Srinivasan and Kurey are specifically addressing issues of quality, these four essential elements are valid for creating a culture around virtually any corporate value from excellence to customer service and beyond. This is exactly what is required for a well-designed employee engagement program.
Led by key managers and influencers who deliver believable and understandable messages, employees know what is expected of them and can be inspired to participate in the organization’s success. What’s more, when supporting goals and values that have purpose and meaning, employees invest their personal effort and energy into supporting the common mission. That's true engagement.
Creating a culture for success requires long-view thinking, communication, and commitment, but will make the difference in ensuring that employees are engaged with the brand’s purpose. As Parr writes, “Think about it like a nurturing habitat for success. Culture cannot be manufactured. It has to be genuinely nurtured by everyone from the CEO down. Ignoring the health of your culture is like letting aquarium water get dirty.” And we all know it’s worth keeping the tank clean.