Company culture eats strategy for breakfast

May 26, 2014

 Say I were to talk to a biologist, an artist and a HR professional about culture, I suspect I would have three entirely different conversations. Given their diversity, it would be expected. However, if I were to talk to three members of staff from the same company, about their company culture or strategy, I suspect I would also have three very different conversations – and that should not be expected.

Have a common goal

When an entire company has a common goal and recognised company culture, it helps staff motivation, personal fulfilment and improves productivity.

Have a look at this article, from a business called ‘Method’.  The article centres on developing and keeping a positive and successful company culture within an organisation. It suggests that:

  •     Employee handbooks do not boost morale
  •     Team building exercises do not improve business performance
  •    The harder management plan for culture, the more it goes underground


If the majority of employees have a real sense of the company culture, and really feel they affiliate with it, then almost anything is possible and people can achieve great things.


Growing a great company culture

Which begs the question ‘how does a business owner help grow a great culture?’

Well the Method “method” makes three recommendations:

  •    Hire people with the right attitude from day one; technical ability can be improved over time
  •    Explain the organisation’s culture to new starters as they take up their role
  •    Continually offer feedback and give reminders about the company’s culture


Here’s  my advice and practical ways to achieve a positive culture within in your business:

As the owner / manager, spend some time either with your fellow directors, mentor or good friend and write down in simple language what your business is all about. Define its purpose and where you’d like it to be in the future – say, a 3 year vision.

Relay those messages to your staff, maybe a representative group to begin with. Perhaps in a structured workshop, that aims to reinforce and build on your concept of the future. Be prepared for debate, but see this as people identifying and getting behind the idea. It’s a good idea to use an external facilitator with a proven process so that you can play an active part in the workshop yourself.

Take the output from that workshop and share it with the whole staff again, be prepared to discuss it and receive feedback.  Everyone’s contribution should then be consolidated into a clear definition of the vision and culture of the business – call this building the “Ways of Working”.

Once the whole workforce has heard about the organisation’s purpose and vision encourage staff to debate how that purpose and vision will be applied within their team. A natural by-product of those sessions will be action plans to improve how the teams work towards achieving the company vision and promoting the company culture.

Taking each of these steps will generate ongoing engagement with the staff and ideas for improvement will start to appear. However, be prepared to elaborate and receive feedback as your staff seek to understand what the vision and culture really mean for them and how they can contribute.

If this effort and commitment seems daunting then ask yourself this question, ”if my staff could care about the business like I do, would my business be more successful?”