Written byRichard ParmenterGroup Services Director
“Culture” and “Strategy” are words often bandied around board rooms by senior leaders during presentations and discussions of the workings of their companies. While an immense amount of energy, and a lot of the time, is driven into the thought process of operational strategies, there is often no deeper thought given to how long-term strategies of vision and business culture can affect the bottom line and most importantly, your team.
What is a culture strategy?
Strategy gives us a map of where we need to get to in 1, 2 or 5 years, allowing a business to plan financially for investment and growth, commercially for client development and physically in terms of space and infrastructure to name a few key areas. Culture expresses the business through values and beliefs, and guides activity through shared goals of the vision. Culture, brand purpose and leadership are inextricably linked. A culture strategy is where acts of policy and business strategy meet team focused priorities such as openness, engagement and continuous learning.
How to create a culture strategy?
For each business, strategy and culture can almost be like the chicken and the egg dilemma. The big question is does a well-defined strategy driving success create a great culture, or is investing in your culture, shaping attitudes and values the key influence in successful strategy planning?
Start by getting your culture right. Getting this right from the start can have a hugely positive effect on a team’s mindset towards what you are asking them to achieve, whether it’s building a skyscraper, designing a new car or delivering a new creative solution for a client.
Communication is key, and a driver in creating a culture such as a family or one that puts the team at the heart of the business, is being open and having leaders who are visible and approachable. By having this, you can break down the barriers of role levels and increase informal communication within the entire team. This can then create a more positive environment for team prosperity. Combining openness with transparency, where the health of the business is actively shared, in turn engages team members to play an active role in the business.
Of course, culture needs to be implemented correctly and responsibly. If used in the wrong way it can have hugely negative effects, at worst, a fear culture or culture where equality does not exist. And it is here, where innovation of new ideas is crippled due to ill collaboration, too much focus on bottom line, ignorance in the board room.
Grow your company’s culture. A business’s culture needs to be grown, lived and nurtured from the very top in the right way, filtering down across all areas of the business from the board room through to the most junior of roles. A company’s culture is everyone’s responsibility and it is something that needs to be at the forefront of every leaders mind in the decisions made in running a business.
A culture will grow and evolve naturally as a business grows, from recruitment of new team members, to new technologies, infrastructure and clients. As this growth happens culture can start to be diluted and this is why it is so important to communicate more and more. Growth and change bring immensely positive change, but can have a negative effect on culture when it is not communicated properly.
Live your company’s values. A team living its values are more flexible, dynamic, adaptable. They can embrace large scale change and growth. Having this state of environment will organically create a more creative, collaborative and proud environment which can naturally drive even the most complex strategy from concept through to execution.
Culture is the lifeblood of a business, having it just right will create a happier workplace, promote trust for a team in the business and in each other and mean you are seen as an attractive option when it comes to recruitment.
DRPG started 40 years ago in a shed at the bottom of the garden. There are now over 340 members of our team – this has been achieved by maintaining our culture of putting our team first, promoting a family feel, being open and having five key values supporting one vision. This culture means that our people aren’t just colleagues, we are family. Our work isn’t a task, it’s our passion. Our thing isn’t problems, it’s solutions.