Is Your Organization Hungry for Cultural Improvement?

October 23, 2018

Is Your Organization Hungry for Cultural Improvement?

Fast-growing companies will always experience challenges when they play a game of digital catch-up. However, today’s organizations face many unnecessary cultural hurdles as they make the jump online. This is because stakeholders often believe that technology and strategy overhauls are more beneficial than cultural investments.

But, as Peter Drucker reminds us, “organizational culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Which begs the question—is your organization going hungry?

One of your employees’ most important needs is a culture that empowers them to be successful. It’s great that more and more companies now take organizational transformation seriously, but technology and strategy improvements will fall short if there’s not a culture that encourages sustainable growth. And it’s not only the HR department's responsibility to support environments where all employee needs are met. Every manager is accountable to this goal.

None of this is new information. Almost all stakeholders understand the important role culture plays in organizational success. So, then why do so few manage their cultures with true rigor? At many companies, it’s was once easy to sense what that culture looked like—you could dip your finger in the secret sauce. But now, global enterprises and consumer bases challenge how effectively businesses can embolden, protect, and enhance their cultures.

To future-proof your company, formalize cultural and value changes and ensure they’ll evolve long term. This includes finding ways to actually live those values and empower employees to become guardians of culture.

How Organizational Leaders Can Blend Technology and Culture
When leaders and employees are left siloed from one another, misalignment around incentives and interpersonal struggles are more a matter of when, not if.

But it's difficult to overcome cultural limitations without a dedicated channel. Companies need a place where employees can come together to pause, assess next steps and then determine who across the organization is most prepared to handle them.

Enter peer recognition platforms.

When done right, investments in leading peer recognition technologies create a smarter, more collaborative workforce. In fact, leading solutions bring company culture to life and act like an organization's amniotic liquid. First, a technology-empowered environment helps connect entities across an organization and more sensibly determines how parts can best interact. Second, digital solutions reinforce the notion that organizations are not static entities, but living beings that must constantly adapt. Dedicated peer recognition tools enable employees to recognize one another and build stronger relationships outside of departmental walls.

Employees want to feel recognized—it’s a natural human craving. They also want the ability to elevate others and share the success of their peers. While there’s a certain “if you rub my back, I’ll rub yours” motivation at play, the overriding benefit is that people grow attached to companies when they feel valuable and valued.

Peer recognition solutions also give leadership visibility into the connections that form across the company. Leadership development is particularly important as organizations open offices in new geographies. Your company’s stakeholders must learn how to simultaneously scale and preserve your organization's’ cultural goals. Rapid employee growth is fantastic, but company leaders must be mindful of that moment when they walk into a work elevator and don’t know anyone’s name. Human limitations mean you will, at some point, max out on the number of names and faces you can remember. There’s simply not enough time in the day, and that’s OK. 

What’s not permissible is allowing human cognition to stand in the way of employees forming connections to and learning from one another.

Leaders can leverage peer recognition tools to bring individuals back into focus and highlight cultural torch-bearers. For example, an employee with many interpersonal workplace relationships plays a big part in his or her company’s social tissue. This person would make a great ally when it’s time to push through a new initiative, or he or she could be an asset during recruitment.

Peer recognition platforms actualize those gut intuitions with data. Additionally, platforms equipped with artificial intelligence and machine learning can now detect how certain behaviors catalyze and influence ideologies throughout the entire company. They can also pinpoint how these behaviors change in real time, as well as who encourages that progress.

Insights like these allow culture and strategy to blend and empower one another, not stand in each other’s ways. However, without a continuous grasp on your company’s culture, investments in technology and strategy will not reach their full potential.

Because organizational culture should eat strategy for breakfast. And for lunch and dinner, too.

Culture Breeds Culture, and so Does Technology
Positive workplace relations act like Velcro—the more you have, the tougher it is to pull away.

But just as Velcro loses its potency over time, so too do professional relationships. Workplace rapport takes maintenance, and companies should always seek out new opportunities to keep those connections alive, and to build new ones. This continuous learning makes it easier to identify cultural focal points within your teams and to use these community builders to your advantage.

As author Daniel Pink notes, “Human beings are natural mimickers. The more you’re conscious of the other side’s posture, mannerisms, and word choices—and the more you subtly reflect those back—the more accurate you’ll be at taking their perspective.”

Culture is an imitation game that often starts at the top, regardless of industry. Consider peer recognition channels and leadership development programs as ways to bring people together and establish communications standards at your organization. The sooner you use solutions to guide behavior, the faster employees will embrace and help build a company culture that prioritizes the close connection between people and technology.

The Authors: 

Guillermo Willi is the Chief People Officer at Globant.