“Culture is king.”
“Culture eats strategy for lunch.”
These sentences and others like them are said over and over again and are generally believed to be true. Yet even though business leaders and their HR, L&D, and DEI support teams agree that establishing a strong culture is important, many fail to do so. Several key reasons support this idea, and understanding them and taking steps to overcome them can help you achieve your cultural goals in 2022.
Reason #1: Company culture plans never leave the boardroom
Many companies spend a great deal of time and energy identifying the desired culture and establishing goals and core values to support it. Too often, however, that work never leaves the boardroom in any meaningful way. Sure, these statements can be framed and hung on conference room walls or posted on company websites, but nothing happens beyond that.
The desired culture, supporting goals, and core values need to flow out of the C-suite and into the organization. Like any plan or goal, action items, clear communication throughout the organization, and a cross section of people supporting the initiatives are necessary for success. Communication should be strategic, continuous, and across multiple channels (such as newsletters, emails, online posts, one-on-one interviews, and town hall meetings) to reach all employees. But that’s just the starting point. Another reason why cultural goals can be so difficult to achieve is that there is a failure to establish accountability.
Reason #2: It’s unclear who is responsible for achieving company culture goals
Accountability is essential to achieve goals of any kind; cultural goals are no different. Senior managers should specify which team or individual is responsible for achieving cultural goals. Whoever is responsible for the task (HR, L&D or DEI), it must be clear to them and to others who has this responsibility. They are the reference person or group to communicate the goals as well as to track, monitor and report on progress towards achieving the goals.
Whoever is leading the effort will need the support of senior leaders to change the culture. It takes support from the top to help drive change.
Reason #3: No one has the soft skills needed to achieve company culture goals
Culture changes do not happen by chance. They make individual efforts and actions at all levels. It often happens that leaders, managers, and employees are committed to achieving goals, but lack the knowledge, skills, or competencies to achieve them.
This is essential for leaders and managers, as they are the ones who have daily interactions with team members and are responsible for creating healthy cultures of inclusion and belonging within their teams. They also have the greatest influence on the day-to-day employee experience, so don’t overlook the need to ensure they have the training to optimize those interactions.
Generational diversity also comes into play here. Younger generations in the workplace may be wholeheartedly committed to achieving cultural goals, but they may not have the experience, confidence, or change management skills to make it happen with their teams. While older generations may have the skills to lead and influence change, they often need to be honed on topics that are often tied to cultural goals such as mental health or employee diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
Specific planning and support for all types of leaders you have will help ensure their success.
Reason #4: Budget was not allocated to support company culture goals
Culture-driven organizations often say, “No money, no mission,” which is true in nonprofits, but still applies to
any organization focused on achieving a desired culture. Without budget money – and the metrics and KPIs to measure success – added to these initiatives, anything is unlikely to happen.
The bottom line is that people are the key to achieving the culture shifts needed to foster inclusion and diversity. Everyone in the organization must know the goals of the culture and the team or person responsible for achieving them. They also need to be trained in the soft skills needed to achieve these goals and have the financial or budgetary support to make things happen.