Three steps to a successful corporate culture

For a company to survive and thrive, it needs to be able to deal with unexpected changes. To thrive and lead, the same company needs to be a master at adapting and finding new opportunities when conditions change from one day to the next. How do we compare this to COVID-19 and the pandemic?

Covid 19 linked to company culture

If we were to ask leaders of organisations and companies around Sweden, or the world for that matter, what was the single most challenging event of the past two years, the overwhelming majority would probably point to COVID-19 and the pandemic.

Fortunately, we are now in the middle of a vaccination programme. It makes us think about what we do for a living. "The 'vaccine' for businesses and organisations to survive the unexpected changes of a worldwide pandemic is the same as it has always been: a strong, healthy corporate culture.

No one had anticipated, at the beginning of last year, that we would be confronted with this sudden shift to home working, digital forms of meeting, economic uncertainty, etc. What we can certainly count on is that new unexpected and more or less sudden and unprecedented developments will occur. revolutionary changes will continue to affect us in the future. More specifically, we will continue to face sudden changes in the market, technological revolutions, an unexpected change in leadership, a surprising shift in strategic direction or the departure of a key team member creating unexpected challenges for the group.


Organisational culture is key

For a company to survive and thrive, it needs to be able to handle unexpected changes; to thrive and be a leader, the same company needs to be a master at adapting and finding new opportunities when conditions change from one day to the next. While there are several aspects to being a master of change, we want to highlight a key perspective that is often overlooked; Culture, good corporate culture.

Organisational culture can be likened to DNA in the sense that it is unique to each organisation. What works for some may not work for others. Nevertheless, there are some key elements that all companies and organisations need to ensure that the organisational culture has what it takes to survive and thrive when unexpected changes come along.

Here are three important keys

1. corporate culture should be a strategic priority

In our work as organisational consultants, we see how most organisations have matured in their approach to culture over the last decade. They have really transformed the way they approach culture, from annual events and one-offs to a more embedded way of working with culture. While this in itself is a great success, there is more to be done to harness culture and reap its myriad benefits.

Culture must become a strategic priority and an important part of the organisation's overall business strategy. More specifically, this means that companies and organisations need to have a strategy for how to develop culture to become a key success factor for business and operations. It is important to include culture in the strategic work, that there are metrics that show whether and to what extent culture supports the business strategy, and that there are forums and tools in the organisation to constantly develop the culture according to business needs. In times of change, unintentional or not, those companies with an ability to understand the culture and use the power of the culture have a clear advantage over those companies where the culture is more or less left to chance.


2. involve everyone in the responsibility for the true culture.

Corporate culture is about shared habits, common ways of approaching challenges at work and the need to involve everyone in the responsibility for their behaviour.

Corporate culture should not be something that only HR or senior management care about and talk about, everyone needs to understand how they affect culture and how different habits affect performance. Having candid conversations with employees about what kind of culture actually exists in the organisation and where it needs to be to serve the organisation's mission and goals is much better than delivering top-down culture concepts.

If people do not recognise how culture they will not engage, but if they are involved in a conversation about what they need to thrive and achieve their goals, they will engage. These conversations combined with how you need to build and maintain the culture will be a powerful internal guide for leaders and employees to become masters of change.


3. Ensure impact, focus on the healthy and celebrate successes

Although good company culture is not the only answerit is an underutilised perspective on managing change in the most effective and least painful way. When corporate culture is a business priority, it becomes a lever for change management.

Business priority areas have a certain dignity in the management of a company and organisational culture should therefore be measured and monitored as carefully as we monitor, for example, financial issues, sales, profitability, productivity, etc.
Feel free to measure the organisational culture with some form of performance-based culture measurement. There are several ways to find out the current state of the culture and how it affects organisational performance, which parts of the culture are strong and where there is untapped potential. A plan is then put in place to create more value for customers and stakeholders and to see how culture is linked to business strategy, impact on performance, etc.

Our recommendation is not to use measurements to find out the shortcomings. Highlight what is strong, highlight what makes us successful, build confidence and find reasons to celebrate and recognise what is good and healthy in culture.

Three elements to be vaccinated

If you have the three elements in place, (1) an organisational culture that is a strategic priority for the business, in which (2) everyone is involved, and where (3) ni mäter och följer upp systematiskt, fokuserar på det friska och firar ordentligt, då kommer organisationen att vara ”vaccinerad” och väl positionerad för att bli mästare på både oväntad och planerad förändring.