Of the various challenges that hamper the building of an iconic organisational culture, most are also the outcomes of a great work culture, making it a vicious loop.
Seen as the key to ensuring high-performing organisations, corporate culture is one aspect everyone loves to talk about, yet it is the most complex subject. It can be compared to a culinary outcome, the ingredients of which are not so easy to guess. A strong corporate culture is hailed as the key to victory in a competitive marketplace, while a weak one is considered the death knell. While the explanation may be easy, the topic of culture remains complex.
Culture may be defined by the values in an organisation and the way things are done; and in turn, it determines how employees see themselves as part of the organisation; their overall understanding of the business, strategic decision making or description of their company’s purpose and more. That said, culture impacts performance—of not just individuals but the business on the whole. Successful companies with significant financial achievements, lower employee turnover and high engagement score will certainly have a strong work culture as the base.
Despite that, there are various challenges that hamper the building of an iconic culture that most organisations look up to. And surprisingly, most of the challenges are also the outcomes of a great work culture, making the whole issue a vicious loop. A recent Dale Carnegie report Transforming Attitudes and Actions: How Senior Leaders Create Successful Workplace Cultures says, “Corporate culture runs deep; the fact that it’s embedded in nearly everything an organisation thinks and does is what makes it so powerful–and so hard to transform.” According to the report, the various challenges that most leaders see as hurdles in enabling a great corporate culture are:
Productivity Pressure: This being the highest rated challenge is also the trickiest one. About 50 per cent of the surveyed leaders say that the pressure to increase productivity is one of the biggest challenges they face in ensuring a positive culture. The report states that some of the desired outcomes that make having a strong corporate culture so important, such as productivity and employee retention, are directly related to some of the problems cited by the survey respondents as challenges to maintaining that culture.
Workplace Transparency: 44 per cent of culture champion (those organisations that have an ‘excellent’ corporate culture) leaders cited workplace transparency as a challenge to maintain a high-performing culture, compared with just 27 per cent of other respondents. Senior leaders from culture champion companies seem particularly attuned to the shift in working styles with technology disrupting work relationships. “Employees’ perceptions of the companies they work for are now shaped by more than traditional, official channels, such as communications from HR and their direct supervisors, but also through company-supported social media and even outside forums, such as GlassDoor and LinkedIn, where a company’s message and image can be difficult to control,” the report states.
Employee Mobility: With access to seemingly better opportunities through social media, and the demand–supply gap in skilled workforce, talent mobility is one of the biggest challenges facing most businesses today. About 40 per cent of culture champion and other leaders admit that employee mobility is a big concern in ensuring an efficient culture.
Employees Working Remotely: The report says that the emergence of new ways of getting work done through technology also complicates the management of a company’s culture. Culture stems from shared learning and the very nature of the human interactions, which engenders that learning has shifted in many cases. “Working relationships may be transient (in the case of ad hoc teams and contract employees) and may increasingly lack the face-to-face intimacy that can speed the creation of trusting relationships (in the case of employees working remotely),” it states. While 40 per cent of culture champions say it is a concern, 28 per cent of other leaders agree too.
Integrating mergers and acquisitions: Understandably so, mergers and acquisitions can shake up the culture when two entities come together. While 38 per cent of corporate champions and 28 per cent of all other leaders say that mergers and acquisitions make it difficult to ensure a great work culture, the report suggests that, “Companies involved in mergers or acquisitions must deal with the integration of multiple corporate cultures, and for organisations operating internationally, societal cultures—the customs, ideas and behaviour of diverse peoples and nations—add further complexity.”