Culture isn’t always an easy thing to discuss in business.
Unfortunately, management by textbook has led to a great deal of scepticism in the UK workforce and culture can sometimes be seen as another failed mission statement or corporate engagement exercise that resembles something from a Dilbert cartoon strip.
However, culture is a key part of business. Culture has a direct impact on the bottom line. If you create a company with a culture that appeals to employees and customers alike, you will attract plenty of both.
For any business with aspirations to grow, creating and nurturing a high-performance business culture will be a challenge, but not one that should be overlooked in favour of chasing numbers.
Only by promoting a culture where people have a desire to be the best in their field will ambitious targets be met. One that is honest, friendly, entrepreneurial and aspirational is essential; but equally as important, there needs to be a desire to make sure every single employee feels fulfilled at work.
This is where culture starts to add value, where it directly impacts on the bottom line and where creating a strong organisational culture isn’t like herding fog, it has real tangible benefits.
To become a high growth business, you need to create a single high performance culture. So, how do you get a sceptical workforce to embrace it?
Growth is usually achieved in one of two ways, either via organic growth or acquisition. It is a real challenge to encourage employees who may be in a new or remote office and concerned about their own future as part of a new organisation to feel part of the team.
The values, beliefs and practices get acted out every day are the code that runs through the organisation. It probably takes you about six months to learn the code and then you’re part of it.
If you ask people ‘what gets rewarded and recognised in this organisation?’ and ‘what gets people in trouble in this organisation?’ you’ll get a pretty good insight into the culture.
Let us not forget that as a business, if growth is delivered through acquisition it is not just investment in a technology or a customer base but investment in the people – the talent, contacts and expertise.
If there are synergies between the two businesses involved then it makes the whole process smoother. In some cases the principle shareholders may leave as part of the terms of the deal so it is vital to protect the real nucleus of the business.
This work doesn’t end when the ink dries on the deal, that’s when it begins. It can take months to truly entrench new staff into a newly combined culture.
With organic growth, hiring in the early days is easier. Management has the time to recognise undeveloped talent which we could work with. Senior staff would have time to take people under their wing.
With scale comes the issue of less time to spend with each and every staff member. Hiring is devolved to a wider team who hire people like them, not like you so do they share your ideals about the company? A strong culture should make sure they do!
The right culture ensures you not only have got the talent required today, but are also investing in succession to ensure the continued successful leadership of the business in to the future.
Scott Leiper is COO of business tech solutions company Amor Group.
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