What happens when founders fail to invest in their culture

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Have you ever said, “We’ll get to defining our culture when we’re less busy”? Sound familiar? If so, you’re certainly not alone. On this occasion though, it’s not a case of safety in numbers. Founders and CEOs who continually kick the culture can down the road are taking a big risk, one that could potentially have devastating outcomes for the growth potential of their business.

This is because a strong company culture is an organisational asset that gives teams stability, identity and provides meaning, predictability and agility. It creates a framework to help team members make the right decisions and take the right actions in unforeseen circumstances. But these benefits can only be achieved if the Founder or CEO has invested the time into defining their culture. The alternative, however, is a company culture that develops organically and can quickly become a liability for the business. As a result, the Founder who fails to invest in their culture can expect to experience some or all of the following problems:

  • They’ll work harder to lead their teams
  • They’ll struggle to hire and retain people
  • They’ll find it hard to differentiate
  • They’ll work harder to retain customers
  • They’ll fail to reach or exceed their potential

These all add up to cultural debts that become harder and harder to pay back, the longer they are left to accumulate. Read on to find out more about these debts so that you can be sure to avoid them!

Debt 1: They’ll work harder to lead their teams.

Companies with poorly defined cultures, which lack purpose, vision and actionable values, are bound to suffer. This is because, without these key elements, teams are free to fill in the gaps with their own subcultures. Some will be aligned to their goals, many won’t. This leads to siloed working, conflicting priorities and wide scale misalignment. That’s a hell of a lot harder to manage than it would be if they had invested in their culture early on.

Debt 2: They’ll struggle to hire and retain people.

We’ve all heard of The Great Resignation, or Re-evaluation as Arianna Huffington recently called it. Basically, people aren’t standing for the corporate bullshit and toxic workplaces anymore. More and more people are actively seeking companies with positive cultures and values that resonate their personal beliefs. The founders who invest in defining their culture benefit as this makes them stand out in a crowded employment market.

Debt 3: They’ll find it hard to differentiate.

In a recent study by Glassdoor, they found that 66% of millennials now put culture above salary. This shows that a company’s culture is it’s biggest competitive advantage. While anyone can copy a product or service, cultures simply cannot be duplicated. So why spend so much time, money and effort investing in the defensibility of your products and services when it’s really the environment you create for your people that makes you different?

Debt 4: They’ll work harder to retain customers.

Culture is a differentiator for customers, too. In a study by Core Comm, they found that 79% of customers say they’re loyal to purpose-driven brands. At the same time, a culture-driven organisation benefits from happier, engaged and highly motivated employees which, in turn, benefits their customers. For companies who don’t invest in their culture, they are playing pot luck with their customer experience and missing out on a key unique selling point.

Debt 5: They’ll fail to reach or exceed their potential.

Regardless of how great your product or service is, it is ultimately delivered by people, and what those people do is defined by your culture. If you get your culture right, then you create the environment for your people to do their best work and deliver on your vision. However, if you choose not to invest in defining your culture, you are allowing your culture to develop organically which risks being mediocre at best and a liability or even destructive, at worst.

We’re helping companies to create cultures that are purpose-driven, highly aligned, and accelerate growth. If you want to find out more about how you can level up your culture and turn it into a key driver for your growth, let’s chat. Get in touch at hello@thefuturekind.co or follow The Future Kind Collective on LinkedIn and Instagram where we regularly share tools and frameworks for you to apply to your organisation. We hope to hear from you!

About the author

Nat is one of two co-founders at The Future Kind Collective which exists to build a world that is kinder, fairer and more creative, where all people have the opportunity to do great things.

Nat is a purpose-driven strategist, empathetic people leader, designer of cultures, services and companies. She is passionate about lifetime learning, compassionate leadership and inclusive cultures.

Nat started her career in digital strategy, where she applied service design to the strategic development of the NatWest mobile banking app. In 2016, she joined SPARCK, a design consultancy, as their third employee, where she was influential in shaping and growing it into a mature organisation.

Throughout her consultancy career, Nat has led projects with varied clients including Insights, Amnesty International, BP, Vocalink (of MasterCard), DVSA, Fidelity, HSBC, ITV and Pizza Hut.

About The Future Kind Collective

The Future Kind Collective is a purpose-driven consultancy which exists to build a world that is kinder, fairer and more creative, where all people have the opportunity to do great things.

We help high growth companies to grow faster and more sustainably by defining their purpose, designing their culture and growing their impact, while also embedding the skills they need to unlock their potential.

We’re here to challenge the existing consultancy model and prove that by putting people and purpose first, you can create businesses that are more profitable, impactful and equitable.

To find out more or to chat over a challenge you’re grappling with, get in touch at hello@thefuturekind.co

We’d love to hear from you!



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