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Companies are in flux at the moment. With a cycle of lockdowns and a migration to remote work or hybrid models, culture is often being sacrificed in order to focus on the business side of things. Which, to some degree, is understandable. But is company culture actually more important than ever right now? A healthy culture can help build strong foundations. In a sea of uncertainty, being able to adapt and promote your culture effectively can be the difference between results and ruin.
We recently had the absolute pleasure of welcoming Kevin Oakes on an episode of The Shortlist. Kevin is the CEO and Founder of the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and author of “Culture Renovation.” Our discussion was full of sage insight, so we’re using this opportunity to share some of Kevin’s key tactics with you.
1.) Your culture has changed, like it or not
There’s no point hiding behind a smokescreen. Even with a siren call of vaccines, the pandemic has fundamentally changed how we work. And businesses need to accept it. According to research conducted by Kevin’s company, i4cp, 93% of employees agree that their company culture has been affected. But there’s an upside. 75% believe this change to be positive. Now is the time to capitalize on what’s worked. Don’t sit back and passively accept the blows delivered by COVID. Be proactive in shaping a renewed culture that suits your particular circumstances.
2.) Focus on people
The pandemic has allowed workers to get a much truer glimpse into the lives of their teammates. We’ve seen sitting rooms and make-shift office spaces, kids and family members, all of which break down this narrative of a business persona. And this should be embraced. One of Kevin’s resounding pieces of advice is to ‘act with respect.’ Veils have fallen and companies have to make sure the culture they promote is mindful of humanity. Flexibility and space are so important now, especially as we transition from a work-life balance to a work-life blend. Encourage your employees to take time for themselves so wellness can flourish and work becomes a psychologically safe place to be.
3.) Renovate, don’t start from scratch
In researching the book, Kevin’s team discovered that most companies who try to change their culture ultimately fail. In fact, he says that only 15% actually succeeded. But one of the fundamental commonalities among these organizations was that they didn’t start from scratch. Instead, they renovated. These companies held on to the core values that made them great to begin with and built on that to become more agile and unshakable. Kevin’s book goes into detail on the overall processes, but he indicated one very important point on this – don’t leap into the build phase of culture renovation before planning. It’s vital to understand your employee sentiment, define your desired approach and set a cultural path. And communicate! Be up-front and transparent because although successful culture renovation starts at the top, you also need to have the cooperation of your workforce.
According to Kevin, culture needs to be governed as much as finances. We’ve all seen how toxic cultures can lead to rather spectacular downfalls. But, we also know that positive culture translates into better performance. So don’t be reactive during these challenging times. Accept that the world of work has altered and take advantage of this opportunity for change.
Watch the full discussion with Kevin Oakes about company culture below or listen as a podcast on Spotify: