Culture should be treated like other key performance indicators. The challenge is getting leadership to buy in and elevate culture to a strategic priority.
Private equity-owned health care company Adreima is in growth mode. The organization set out to conduct cultural due diligence, and has since adopted a cultural health assessment process as a key component in its integration strategy.
Many company cultures shifted during the past few years’ economic challenges, and the resulting stress has caused fault lines to appear in their cultural framework. But today’s business environment requires that companies understand organizational culture and make it a top priority on the strategic initiatives list.
When cultures shift, they often produce a level of discontent with the talent pool that is a breeding ground for frustrated and angry behavior. Cultural fault lines, if not examined and repaired, eventually can lead to unrest among employees, which can be significant to the organization — most notably in a loss of an organization’s best performers. The advent of social media often helps spread negative energy more quickly.
This kind of discontent is often a result of significant changes in the organization, such as installation of a new leadership team, a merger or acquisition. These kinds of changes often force top talent to re-evaluate how they feel about working for the organization. Culture, therefore, can no longer be an afterthought or byproduct of leadership’s actions; it must be elevated to a strategic priority.
Too often, however, culture is closer to the bottom of strategic concerns, an aspect quickly dismissed if need be because of its reputation as a touchy-feely component of organizational life and business, belonging solely to human resources. The challenge is getting senior leadership to buy into the idea that culture is a valuable asset and should be treated like other key performance indicators (KPI).
In some organizations, cultural assessment or transformation are on the strategic initiatives list. However, they are typically identified as tasks or deliverables versus strategies that require a systemic and holistic approach to understand an organization’s identity.
Definitions of organizational culture vary, but essentially it is a collective behavior of humans in an organization, formed by similar values, visions, norms, language, systems and symbols. Culture also may be interpreted as the way people — employees, clients and stakeholders — interact with one another in the organization.