Three Reasons Culture Needs to be at the Centre of Your Growth Strategy

No matter where your team is working (in person, remote or hybrid) culture is evolving. Organizations have two options: let culture (i.e., the behaviors that define and make an organization unique) evolve on its own – which it will – or take control. Use this opportunity to shift your thinking about culture and strategy, and to understand the behaviours that are driving performance in this new world of work and put culture at the centre of strategy. This culture/people-first approach is the only way to win in today’s business environment.

Here’s why:

Culture together with leadership is the bridge that links strategy and results through shared purpose.  If as an organization you are only reacting to the new business environment, to the next disruption, then it becomes much more challenging to succeed. You have to treat culture as your most significant competitive advantage. If you don’t, then you risk it becoming a disadvantage. This goes beyond adapting to all the changes happening in the world of work. It’s about positioning your organization for the future. People want interesting work, they want to be recognized for their contributions and they want to be part of organizations where their individual purpose aligns to organizational purpose. The most aligned organizations from a culture and purpose standpoint will win because they are the ones poised to perform at the highest levels.

More than ever, business is about people. Leaders need to embrace this and become culturepreneurs. It’s up to leaders to create an environment of psychological safety and continuous learning. They must work hard to connect team members’ meaning and purpose to organizational meaning and purpose. The need for this sense of connection will only continue to grow in importance for people, particularly in a post-pandemic world where employees are putting their own needs and values front and centre. Organizations have to learn how to reshape roles to desired behaviors (i.e., culture) and to an individual’s unique abilities. People will align to organizations that align to them.

Making culture the centre of strategy isn’t just good business, it’s great business. When you prioritize culture and people then you drive inclusion and benefit from diverse experiences, viewpoints and skills that will lead to better decision making and stronger performance. The proof is in the numbers.

Based on our research with Waterstone Human Capital’s Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures awards program, which recognizes best-in-class, high-impact cultures, we know that organizations that put culture at the centre of their business strategy have improved employee engagement scores, increased happiness, better attraction and retention of top talent, and achieve higher net promoter scores than their counterparts that aren’t as focused on culture. The result: For each of the last eight years, Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Culture winners have significantly outpaced The TSX Composite Index by more than 700%.

Final thoughts: Growing is about how you do things, not what you do. That’s why organizations need to focus on culture first and build strategy around culture. Think about the culture you want going forward because that’s what your existing and future talent are focused on. People, leadership, culture – that’s the future.

When it comes to putting culture at the centre of business strategy, Waterstone Human Capital can help. To find out more about how our executive search and culture management services are helping organization drive growth and performance through culture, schedule a meeting with our team.