6:07 PM, September 25, 2023

A question of transformation

| The European | 11 January 2019

Virgin, Google, and Microsoft are all great examples of companies with a clear corporate identity. It’s one of the reasons they are able to attract and retain the best talent. Unfortunately this isn’t the case for all organisations. Due to a range of factors, some internal, some external, a great many find themselves battling for survival. Bleeding money to stay afloat, poor staff performance and losing key staff to new opportunities are just some of the problems ailing companies encounter. So, how can these organisations start to turn things around?

Many organisations turn to “culture transformation” – a strategy to define, or redefine “who” the company is. Personifying a company in this way may seem bizarre, but it is important. A company must be bigger than one person, or one dominant leader. Business leaders have flaws and if these flaws manifest, or if he or she departs without an exit strategy in place, performance may suffer. Therefore, a rulebook for “who” the company is, and what behaviour is required to ensure longevity can be vital. A truly sustainable company will be a sum of all its parts and not just iterations of leadership – as we see with Virgin and Google. They can adapt and, if necessary, reinvent themselves, because deep down, they know who they are.

It is common for CEOs or boards of directors to dictate the culture of an organisation. And this is often a product of their own ideals. In 99.9% of cases, culture is dictated to teams, rather than occurring as an organic process. Leadership teams are usually formed to determine the mission, vision and focus the company is working towards. And then work out what beliefs and values are required to arrive at this destination.

Culture transformation is not new. Yet in 2017 the Energy Project’s “Employee Engagement Survey” revealed that only 34% of employees felt a strong connection with their organisation’s mission, only 37% of employees were satisfied with their working circumstances and, only 54% of employees felt energised by their job. This indicates that dictated culture is clearly not having the desired effect.

Staff feedback to strategic measures often ran along the lines of, “it’s just a gimmick”. revealing a certain distance between some companies’ mission, vision and focus directives and how staff are responding to them. Which begs the question: is dictated cultural transformation ineffective, or is it simply not being executed to the best effect?

Solutions to cascading information are best achieved digitally, with Tribe365 the leading digital solution for “culture implementation”. Tribe365 claims to be the world’s first culture implementation programme. I believe that Tribe365 brings measurability to culture, which historically has been very difficult. Business leaders now have the ability to have the power of high performing teams in the palm of their hands.

Tribe365 incorporates three modules:

  • Directing – Setting the company direction and digitalising mission, vision, focus, values and beliefs;
  • Connecting – Connecting the workforce through individual and team studies to assign appropriate roles to individuals and identifying factors required for team members to thrive;
  • Supercharging – Motivation, organisation, culture structure and reporting culture.

Culture is very convoluted. Tribe365 shines a light on culture and brings a year-round awareness and visibility to where things are. It allows activity to be planned and ultimately build towards the highest performing culture for an organisation.

The author conducts a seminar on culture transformation

Nonetheless, will a dictated digital culture that bridges the gap of awareness and involvement solve everything? The answer is no. A cultural transformation results in changed ideals that won’t suit everyone, and will inevitably result in job losses, recruitment cutbacks, and ultimately, internal conflict.

An organic approach to culture implementation takes a softer approach along the lines of: “I trust my workforce and want them to dictate collectively where we end up”. It’s an approach that might be met with trepidation by many business leaders. However, more progressive leaders are likely to believe in this philosophy – although, only time will tell. The organic approach to cultural transformation may very well be the best way forward for businesses willing to commit to it 100%. On the plus side, disruption to staff will be minimal, but progression to a super-performing organisation is much slower too. However, when you do eventually arrive at the destination, the results should bear greater force. There will be a track record of building your staff from within and, as such, your staff is likely to stay with your business for a much longer period. Perhaps even for the rest of their working life. Unfortunately, such is the pace of modern life businesses do not always have the time for this organic approach. Nevertheless, the evidence of success from businesses supporting this methodology is inspiring.

The companies that go down the organic route do achieve great results. However as already mentioned, it takes a lot longer to agree on a shared position and thus requires greater investment. Organic cultural transformation using digital solutions to facilitate the process can certainly speed things up and reduce outlay. And is a great option for organisations willing to put in the extra work and form a strategy that is compatible for a diverse workforce.
In summary, both organic and dictated cultural transformations have shown to be effective. However, current statistics suggest that cultural transformation is more likely to fail than succeed. If implemented successfully, organic culture transformations will reflect the sum of the entire organisation and provide true direction. The question is whether the company survives the time it takes to reach its destination. Will the change be too much?

Dictated culture transformation is the quickest and easiest to deploy. However, implementation may never succeed down to resistance and lack of adoption. The approach offered by Tribe365 is fully digital, and based on experience, is adopted by over 80% of our clients who agree that the digital approach helps their staff to adopt the company mission.

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