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Culture and Strategy for Breakfast

What defines success in your business? Dr Cath Bishop, former Olympic rower and business growth coach thinks that business targets and results – often used as measures of success –  are short lived, imposed measures that limit collaboration and growth.  She believes that this leaves your people unfulfilled, with no long term and lasting value.

Delivering the key note address at the recent Future of Work – Reinventing the Workforce conference, Dr Bishop called for investing in things that help in the long term such as relationships with your people and culture. She called for business leaders to tap into the intrinsic motivation of your people and find out what motivates their people at an individual level to encourage them to innovate and become energised.

“Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”

This is a famous quote attributed to management guru Peter Drucker (2006) which implies that the culture of your company always determines success regardless of how effective your strategy may be. Over time this quote has been taken out of context a little as Drucker was not saying that strategy isn’t important but rather, he was pointing out the importance of the human factor in any company.

Stephen Scott, the Divisional Growth Director at Capita People Solutions feels that the opportunity to re-invent how businesses work, in the post pandemic world, is too good to be missed. Stephen calls for engagement with your people and involving them in shaping the workplace of the future.

At Journey4 we have developed a new Smarter Working employee survey tool Smarter Working Employee Survey to engage with your people. Everyone’s personal circumstances are different, meaning that businesses need to adopt an employee-driven approach, rather than implementing one-size-fits-all solutions from the top down.

The employee survey will assess employees’ views on working at home during lockdown: what they have liked or found difficult about it, what would help them work at home more comfortably and how they would like to work under different future scenarios.

It is not just about reinventing the workplace for our office based people, however. This only represents about 50% of the workforce who can work flexibly from home. There is a danger of driving a wedge into the business between those who can work flexibly and those whose role prevents this. What is required is a company-wide culture that is flexible and recognises everyone in the business and their individual needs.

Scott feels that we should aim to make our employees happier than customers, in other words put the same, if not more effort, in to managing employee relationships than we do customer relationships. But do business have the right tools to manage their employees at the individual level of detail; we do for our customers, so why not for our people?

It is essential that leaders are pivotal to the process of employee engagement and attracting and retaining top talent as we get back on track after Covid-19. The importance of communication from senior leaders throughout the process cannot be under-estimated.

Katie Lloyd, the Development Director at the BBC, has identified 3 strategies for developing a more inclusive culture that they have implemented at the broadcasting organisation.

  • Investing in leaders of the future
  • Develop culture champions
  • Invest in young talent

Also speaking at the conference, Katie believes that the leadership of the future must have a growth mindset, high emotional intelligence, be innovative and open to new ideas and perspectives. She believes in greater horizontal communication in the business, building psychological safety and empower colleagues to make changes.

At Journey4, we understand that top down leadership rarely works on its own. We have designed the Adaptive Leadership programme to help equip leaders at all levels with the skills to thrive in the future. The focus for leaders now needs to be on finding new and better ways of making good, quick decisions, collaboratively leading change, encouraging innovation and empowering people.

Adaptive leadership can be achieved through a set of strategies and practices used to overcome obstacles, achieve meaningful change, and adapt to challenging and complex environments.

Our Adaptive Leadership service helps business leaders to assess themselves against the characteristics of Adaptive Leaders and to develop ways of working, individually and collectively, that give leaders and their colleagues the confidence to change and grow.

So, to summarise, organisations will need to consider what actions they can take to balance the individual needs with those of the organisation. How do you engage and energise your people and keep energy level ups?

Building relationships with your people is a pre-requisite for a successful business, and this needs to be achieved at an individual level and sustained through the culture of the organisation. Investing in the long term relationships of your people will deliver sustainable growth.