In the chaotic business world we operate in today, culture and organizational clarity does not happen by choice. Leadership teams that run high-performing businesses understand the critical role that strategic focus, clarity, and alignment up and down the organization can play in determining business performance. They understand that for the company to maximize optimal performance they must align their organization to a clearly defined strategy and story.

Defining a work culture can often be the difference between success and failure for many organizations. Company culture shapes the workday experience of each employee. It emerges from the company’s mission, mood, values, expectations, goals, hiring choice, and even office design—all those factors, great and small, that shape the company’s overall direction.

Yet, culture remains an elusive topic to know, feel, and understand. Even if we had a clear definition of company culture, there is no recipe book to follow for producing the kind of company culture you want.

Culture is the Game

However, during times of business transformation, culture is a critical but often overlooked topic. Louis V. Gerstner Jr., former CEO of IBM, once said, “Until I came to IBM, I probably would have told you that culture was just one among several important elements in any organization’s makeup and success—along with vision, strategy, marketing, financials, and the like. I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game—it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.”

Culture is the foundation of business success and employee engagement in 2018, and it sets the stage for leaders to step forward to ensure they are stewards of building and maintaining a strong culture. The bar continues to be raised and leaders need to continue to push for culture change and actively work to build engagement in their organizations.

I recently came across the book, Why Are There Snow Blowers in Miami? Written by Steven D. Goldstein, a former executive for a large retailer, he outlines what he believes makes a business successful—and it begins with culture and consequently, engagement. The principles are not in themselves revolutionary. How they work together to create a way of life for the believer makes them effective. This means focusing on a few key principles, such as:

  1. Fresh Eyes: Continually look at issues with a new perspective and don’t lose focus on solving problems as they arise.
  2. Connecting: Connect with people, be present, and see for yourself what is or is not working.
  3. Hot Buttons: Focus is critical, says Gertner. “You can’t lead by giving a group 22 things to focus on, yet many organizations do just that,” he notes. Instead, find hot buttons and allow people to focus on the two to three things that will really make a difference.
  4. Transparency: Employees must have information that is timely, accurate, and relevant.
  5. Speed: Organizations need to move quickly. As Gerstner states, “Months, quarters, and years need to be replaced with hours, days, and weeks.”

As a marketing leader, your organization should be equally focused on customer experience, culture, and engagement. If you can’t win the hearts and minds of your employees, then how can they be expected to win the hearts and minds of customers?

  • Jim Lefevere

    Jim Lefevere is International Business Leader, Digital Partnering Solutions at Roche Diabetes Care. Jim is an award-winning commercial executive with over 20 years of expertise in the consumer-packaged goods, startups, medical device, and healthcare industries. He has expertise in leading marketing, customer experience, and new product development while expanding global markets through profitable growth.


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