Landbell Group, headquartered in Germany, is a leading supplier of environmental and chemical compliance solutions. Having made several acquisitions in recent years, it is keen to offer an enhanced service to its customers and to maximize all inter-company synergies. That requires a consistent culture throughout the new group. It means change.
Fenwick is a family owned department store chain in the UK. Up to a few years ago, all stores operated independently. A recent re-organization has created a centralised structure with shared services and consistency in brand across all stores. It means change.
The thing about both of these clients is that their culture has shifted by default. Regardless of what change is going on in an organization, culture has a role to play. Every business challenge, strategy, drive for customer-centricity, or change management programme has an impact on culture. It’s simply unavoidable. Therefore, change and culture are intrinsically linked. As the golden thread that weaves its way throughout an organization, culture is all embracing.
In the same way that every country has its own unique culture, so too has every organisation. However, not every organization has proactively designed its culture. Consequently, employees end up learning slowly and painfully by discovery. That can lead to inconsistency in behaviours, leadership styles and processes. That in turn causes ambiguity, conflict, missed KPIs and poor customer service.
The culture in Fenwick for example, had already shifted before the pandemic. But now, as indeed with your own organization, its culture is shifting again. The leaders have acknowledged this and are refreshing the culture in a form that will ensure consistency across the business. That means the leaders will control the change rather than the change controlling the company.
While organizations can only plan in bite size chunks at the moment, I’m hoping that later in the year we can all return to a normal planning cycle. In the meantime however, we should acknowledge that our organization culture may have shifted recently. But has it shifted for better or worse? And how do we know for sure?
The Four Must-have Values to Supercharge your Organization
A clearly defined set of values will help you to shape your culture. In my work throughout the years, I have identified four must-have values that every organization should consider prioritizing. Sadly, these are often absent in real behaviours on the ground. In my new book Culture Matters, the Four ‘Must-have’ Values to Supercharge your Business, I share ideas to remind organisations that culture is more important than strategy.
- Customer-centricity. The pandemic has changed customer expectations and behaviours forever. If customer-centricity was a cliché beforehand, you too will know that customer experience will be the new battleground going forward. Regardless of whether you are B2B or B2C, competing on product or location alone, is simply not enough anymore.
- Respect. The past year has been a time of deep reflection. Wellness and sustainability of our planet have shot up the thinking totem pole. So too has the notion of how we interact with each other, whether it’s virtual or in person. I listened recently to an employee on a radio interview who said that he now realises that bean bags and free beer on Fridays does not make up for a leader that does not show respect.
- Accountability. As the world slowly returns to normal, we all must show up and play our part. Doing what is expected of us has been surpassed by needing to go the extra mile to support your business. I realise that’s a two-way street, and that’s why ‘respect’ is so important. At the very least, own what you do and deliver.
- Agility. Despite the slumber of the past year, don’t be mistaken into thinking that the world has slowed down. It’s quite the opposite and how you cope with that change is up to you. You need to up your pace, be more adaptable and innovative. Ban the phrase ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’.
The Last Word
I wrote Culture Matters as a parable. Rather than a typical business book with models and case-studies, I used the time during lockdown to write in a more story-telling style. Set on the River Shannon with characters based on real-life, prepare to learn how culture and values impact your business.
You will see too that what often sounds like a complex topic, is not that difficult after all.
Available at kara.ie/culturematters
Alan O’Neill, author of “Culture Matters” is a Change Consultant and Keynote Speaker, specialising in strategy, culture and structure. Go to www.kara.ie to get support in growing your business.
© Copyright. Alan O’Neill. All rights reserved. 2021