How Company Culture Brings Strategy to Life For Businesses Today
For many businesses, company culture and strategy exist in two different worlds. They take on separate conversations and are designated separate leadership and separate budgets. And although many executives today realize that both culture and strategy drive their business, they fail to link the relationship between the two. But not grasping how strategy and culture can work together means both become less impactful.
More Connected Than You Think
There are many misconceptions about what company culture really means and, as a result, what its true value is to a business. Some dismiss culture as an ‘HR-only issue’ or address it as the ‘fluff’ of what a business really is. What they don’t realize is that company culture is one of the most integral drivers of long-term success, sustained growth, and competitive advantage.
Because company culture is often undervalued, when we see companies struggling, HR departments are often the first to have their budgets cut. And even when smart companies allocate funds towards building a stronger strategy, many dismiss culture as part of this conversation — leaving HR leaders out of the conversation.
This is a mistake. Without focusing in on employees and building a cohesive, strong culture, even the strongest strategy can’t really come to life. In the end, your people are the ones who bring a strategy alive. And so no brand strategy is really strategic without making company culture part of the discussion.
Culture Can Bring a Strategy to Life
In order to get your brand strategy out of a presentation deck and living in your business, you need motivated, inspired, aligned, and vision-driven people. People who are strategically in-pace, clear about the brand, and directed towards a shared vision.
In the end, culture can make or break a strategy — giving it an environment to thrive in or die in. Here’s how a focus on culture can help bring a strategy to life.
Greater Focus and Alignment Around the Vision
Although the first step of a successful strategy is getting leaders aligned around a shared purpose, it doesn’t end there. Everyone within the business — from the higher-ups to the new hires — has to be driven towards the same vision. It starts with the leadership, but needs to trickle down. Without everyone on board, business goals and objectives will float further and further out of reach.
When businesses get smart about sharing their strategy, giving new voices a place at the table, and finding exciting, innovative ways of getting their employees on board, the strategy thrives. It’s important that employees feel clear about what the strategy means for their business and their own personal work. What changes? What is there to get excited about? What is everyone driving towards? How does a new strategy change the culture? What are the specific behavior changes within the workplace that reflect this new strategy? These are all questions that require transparency and that need to be addressed.
When the whole company is united around a shared vision and clear about how to get closer and closer to that vision, the business becomes more focused, more efficient, more inspired, more productive, and in the end, more impactful. With culture and strategy — together — driving it forward.
More Consistency and More Collaboration
When culture becomes a part of the strategic conversation, recruiting and retaining employees who are going to have the most impact on your business becomes easier. And finding the right fit and keeping people motivated, happy, and inspired becomes more of a reality.
When you’re clear about the kind of people who are going to drive your business into the future, and help shape the culture you want to build, collaboration flourishes, innovation thrives, and creativity rockets. Employees feel empowered because they are clear and excited about living the brand every day. The strategy comes to life through employees who come together and instill the emotional impact in target audiences, bring the brand promise alive, and keep business moving forward every day.
Brand strategy has a very direct connection to the issue of culture change. When culture becomes a part of the strategic conversation, and employees gain clarity around why the brand matters and why their business is different, they behave in ways that are aligned strategically with the values, vision, and aspirations of the company. Coming together with a shared focus is what puts that strategy into play, and allows businesses to outperform the competition and position themselves for success.
Emotive Brand is a San Francisco brand strategy and design agency.
Originally published at www.emotivebrand.com on January 25, 2017.