Whether it’s carefully crafted or developed on its own, every company has a culture. Organizations that create a culture that aligns with their business goals position themselves to gain market share and competitive advantage. 

But why is culture so important? As legendary management guru Peter Drucker is rumored to have said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” No matter how well-thought-out or ingenious a strategy, it will never lead to results in an environment with an unhealthy or neglected organizational culture. 

What is company culture?

Culture is the qualitative “stuff”—the mission, values, expectations, goals, and behaviors—that creates the environment of your organization. Oftentimes, culture originates from a company’s founder and is passed to other leaders, eventually permeating the entire organization. In other words, culture is how people act and make decisions when no one directly tells them what to do. And it’s being constantly reinforced or re-molded with every interaction and decision.

Why is cultural alignment important?

Friction happens in a business when there is a lack of cultural alignment—within the team itself or between a company and its customers. While culture as a concept can seem somewhat intangible, studies show that cultural alignment (or lack thereof) leads to tangible outcomes:

  • Highly engaged teams are 21% more profitable (Gallup)
  • The cost of replacements after turnover is 33% of the former employee’s annual salary (Work Institute’s 2017 Retention Report)
  • Two-thirds of all employee turnover is voluntary (ADP Research Institute’s Revelations from Workforce Turnover report).
  • Having a culture that attracts high-talent can lead to 33% higher revenue. Part of this comes from hiring talented managers, which leads to 27% higher revenue per employee. (Gallup)
  • 30% of employees don’t believe their company’s core values align with their personal values (OfficeVibe’s State of Employee Engagement poll).
  • 19% don’t understand their core values or simply don’t know them (OfficeVibe’s State of Employee Engagement poll).

So as a business leader, how do you go about creating cultural alignment? Cultural alignment isn’t something that gets built once…rather, it’s like gardening. It requires regular attention, or it will wither and die, or be overrun by weeds. 

How do I reinforce my culture?

Consistent communication and mindfulness are key when reinforcing your company culture. Here are a few ways you can go about it (or even better, engage your marketing and HR departments to go about it): 

  • Gain the buy-in of the key members of their team that other employees look up to—the non-management employees who are well-respected by their peers. These key employees have a unique ability to affect the culture by influence and example. Without them, management will always be fighting an uphill battle if they want to enact positive change.
  • Make sound hiring decisions. Hiring employees whose personalities and natural working styles match what you aspire to enact organizationally has a two-pronged effect. First, they will influence the employees around them in a positive way. Second, the new employee will be at an advantage to reaching their maximum potential because the way they need to work to succeed already matches the way they do things by default.
  • Continue to spread the message. Leverage your marketing team to align communications with your company’s core values. If HR has implemented a recognition program, they could be selecting employees to recognize based on the ways they represent your values. And finally, when it comes to both informal feedback and structured performance reviews, align employees’ development plans and your conversation with your core values.

Cultural alignment has a way of galvanizing organizations to achieve more. And when a company’s culture amplifies the quality of the product or service it offers, it creates a competitive advantage that can’t be copied. What can you do today that will reinforce your company culture?

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