Does Your Organization Live the Culture You Say You Want?

Is culture accidental? A simple by-product of the way work is done? Perhaps at one time it was, today, however, corporate culture is a hot topic of discussion not only in HR but also in the boardroom. Increasingly, culture is a strategic imperative, purposefully designed for organizational success.

From personnel, to human resources, to people strategy, to employee experience, leaders responsible for the human side of business continue to evolve, finding new ways to deliver a competitive edge that generates results, market share, and increased valuations on Wall Street.

Culture is comprised of both an organization’s values and the people who bring those values to life. Strategic talent acquisition is key to the successful care, feeding, and nurturing of culture. Ask yourself:

Is your organization committed to this? Perhaps by revamping the entire process of recruiting and onboarding employees? What about your diversity efforts? Are you enhancing the pipeline by widening your networks to recruit the most qualified candidates regardless of gender, race, age, and sexual orientation? And, once hired, are you providing training to managers who need help and the additional support they need to leaders who can benefit from coaching?

Is there alignment?

If your organization has yet to be purposeful in documenting its culture, it’s important to step back and examine whether or not there is alignment between the existing culture and the culture your leadership desires. Is there agreement on how to achieve that culture and the behaviors your leaders and the organization must exhibit? Most importantly, do the strategic elements of your desired culture align with the employee experiences within your organization?

Analytics and data-driven insights help organizations evaluate future leaders based on experience, skills, and other measurable merits, which can then assist with mentor pairings, and provide insights that inform policies. The drivers that support organizational values and help build a sustainable culture attract the talent needed to remain competitive and grow the business. HR has long known that talent drives business and culture lures and keeps talent.

Transparency of the employee and candidate experience through Glassdoor, The Muse, and Kununu, reflect what the culture is; knowing that an organization truly “walks the walk” attracts high caliber candidates. On a similar note, showing alignment between expressed culture and employee experience strongly supports the employer brand.

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What is the employee experience?

The best way to ensure proper alignment is through processes that support a terrific experience throughout the employee lifecycle. For example, avoid a form letter rejection for the senior leader candidates you interview. Examine why a manager whose attrition rate is triple that of other managers remains in the role. Consider the impact a reputation with vendors might have on the employer brand. How do your customers react to your organization; are they treated the way senior leadership envisions? What causes the lack of follow through — ghosting even — by applicants? Why are offers rejected by candidates you really want to hire? If you believe these issues are singular, look deeper. Be ruthlessly honest about the alignment among organizational values, culture, employee experience, and your employer brand.

Circle back to your data; what do employees want? Employee-directed resource groups attract employees based on common interests. They provide a platform to advance business initiatives. Consider an employee advisory council to solicit feedback on planned programs or changes in policies – and be prepared to act on the input!

Data and information, as well as candid communications, support leaders and give them insight into the operations of an organization. Likewise, employees benefit from perspective into their performance with continuous feedback. Effective organizations and managers communicate regularly, with timely and actionable insights geared toward improved performance. High performing cultures, built on transparency and open communication, attract managers who commit their time, energy, and behavior to support the success of their people. This ultimately enhances the leadership pipeline and ensures employees are aware how their contributions support the bottom line.

Creating a supportive culture where the organization and its “most important asset” can thrive is no longer accidental. The impact of an exceptional culture has been shown to impact the financial value of organizations. Where is your culture along the continuum from where you want it to be to where you wish it no longer was?

Elaine Varelas, managing partner at Keystone Partners, has over 20 years of experience in career consulting and coaching development and has worked with numerous executive management teams to improve organizational effectiveness.  She has expertise in successfully resolving complex career management issues, including workforce planning, redeployment, and multisite restructurings.

Varelas’ experience spans a broad range of industries and businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, start-up ventures, and not-for-profit organizations.  She serves as treasurer of Career Partners International, LLC, a network of independently owned career management firms, which Keystone cofounded in 1987. She is also a certified executive coach by the Center for Executive Coaching and MBTI certified.

A graduate of the management development program at Boston University, Varelas holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Vermont and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.  She is an active member of many professional associations, including The Boston Club.

@ElaineVarelas

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