Sunday 19 November 2017

10 vital principles to improve the culture, performance and revenues in your business

Ciara Fallon and David Keane of PwC explain why leaders need to understand the culture of their organisation, and share 10 simple steps to enhance it

Getting a head start on changing culture requires targeting key leaders and behaviours
Getting a head start on changing culture requires targeting key leaders and behaviours

Ciara Fallon and David Keane

Decision-making, behaviours and trust are key to achieving strong performance, growth and increased revenues. When we talk about how people behave, how decisions are made, and the development and maintenance of trust, we are referring to culture.

Culture can often be mistakenly thought of as a vague nebulous concept but in fact, it is core to the success or otherwise of your organisation and has the potential to be your greatest asset.

With the majority of chief executives spending at least half of their time on issues related to corporate culture, senior management need to consider what they can do to signal and reinforce critical behaviours throughout their organisations. Jon Katzenbach, Carolin Oelschlegel and James Thomas of PwC identified 10 principles that will help organisations improve their culture and, in turn, increase the odds of success.

1 Work with current cultural situations. Every culture has positive and negative aspects that need to be understood and shaped. To work with your company's culture in an effective way, you need to recognise which traits are dominant and consistent, and understand when these traits are likely to help or hinder.

2 Change behaviours and mindsets will follow. Hanging statements about values on the walls of your office does not change behaviours. The values must be reflected in how people, particularly leaders, behave and make decisions.

3 Focus on a critical few behaviours. You cannot change all existing behaviours in an organisation, nor should you attempt to. Instead, focus on a small number of important behaviours that would have a great impact if put into practice by a significant number of people.

4 Deploy authentic informal leaders. Every organisation has authentic informal leaders who are not defined by the position they hold or their grade. Getting these leaders onside is vital to the success of any change effort as other employees will turn to them for guidance.

5 Don't let formal leaders off the hook. Culture remains the responsibility of all leaders in an organisation, not just HR. If employees see a disconnect between the stated culture of an organisation and the reality displayed by leadership, they will quickly disengage.

6 Use cross-organisational methods to go viral. Enable ideas to spread across the organisation as well as top down and bottom up. Use social media and innovative informal and formal communication channels.

7 Link behaviours to business objectives. Employees need to understand the impact of their behaviours on the aims and success of the organisation. Companies must provide tangible, well-defined examples of how culture impacts performance and financial outcomes.

8 Demonstrate impact quickly. Any change requires clear momentum and results if it is to survive and prosper. Organisations must demonstrate early, clear and tangible progress of the impact of cultural efforts on business results and the working environment.

9 Align structures with behaviours. The structures and processes of your organisation need to align with and enable the behaviours required to shape your desired culture.

10 Actively manage your culture over time. Changing culture is not a once-off event. Even if you manage to align your culture with your priorities today, they may not align in the future.

Ciara Fallon and David Keane work in PwC's People & Organisation division. This article first appeared in Accountancy Ireland magazine.

Sunday Indo Business

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