June 29, 2022 – Culture is hardly a new concept. Well before the rise of various models and frameworks to evaluate organizational culture, companies recognized the risk of hiring a cultural mismatch — such as the lone wolf in a company that values collaboration. New employees, especially leaders, who clash with the culture are often ineffective, and are likely to quickly depart for a friendlier environment.
“Culture is created by the unspoken messages people receive about what is really valued in an organization,” said Amanda Fajak, executive director of Walking the Talk, a culture transformation advisory firm acquired last year by ZRG Partners. “Many of those messages are not spoken – they are picked up by what we observe going on around us. Because as humans, we’re tribal animals. We want to fit in, so we look for signals about how we are supposed to behave, and we adapt our behavior according to those messages which is why culture is so powerful.”
As the ramifications of COVID-19 continue well beyond the pandemic, broad and lasting changes to the workplace have advanced a more integrated approach to talent management built around culture, according to executive recruiters. Organizations that used to synchronize their talent to corporate vision, core values, and strategic objectives are now aligning people around purpose. And for good reason: Building sustainable cultures in the long run will attract, engage, and retain talent – and give organizations with strong cultures a key competitive edge, according to executive recruiters.
One of the most prevalent issues seen in designing a company culture is the lack of clarity about what culture is – and isn’t. Culture is the patterns of behavior that are encouraged, discouraged, or tolerated, by people and systems, over time. To successfully develop and manage any company’s culture you need to measure and monitor your culture as you would do with any other aspect of your business.
These days, organizations are looking for more pace, more reliability, better relationships with customers, talent attraction and retention, better collaboration to achieve synergies, according to Ms. Fajak. “To achieve these outcomes, it is more than a communication campaign – it requires people to think and behave in a particular way,” she said. “In many cases organizations need to make significant shifts to unlock those behaviors and the cost of not making the shift is significant. In that respect culture has never been more important as a tool to unlock business benefits.”
Ms. Fajak notes that some keys for establishing a good company culture include linking your culture to your strategy – your culture should have a purpose in your organization so that it is meaningful. “You have a culture whether you manage it or not, when you choose to manage your culture you are purposefully creating the culture you want,” Ms. Fajak said. She also notes that the shadow of the leader is powerful – the behavior of your leaders amplifies out and is manifested in your organization. Work on behaviors and mindsets – you need to go deep enough to have lasting impact.
Tomorrow, Ms. Fajak is headlining a webinar co-hosted by ZRG Partners and Hunt Scanlon Media where she will discuss how to design a winning corporate culture. Other guests will include Bob Weiler, managing partner at Brimstone Consulting Group, and John Keller, managing director at ZRG Partners’ technology practice. In addition, special guest Cora Béghin, vice president of learning and development at Sage, will discuss with Walking the Talk how her firm identified key patterns of behavior to unlock success within their organization and how they were able to increase pace and commitment across the organization to deliver strategic priorities.
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Amanda Fajak is an executive director with Walking the Talk and head of product. An expert in culture transformation, she has over 25 years’ experience in culture transformation and creating the workplace of the future. Ms. Fajak has advised leaders from over 100 organizations across Asia, Europe, and the Americas, including start-ups through to some of the largest companies in the world, supporting them to build their culture as a strategic asset.
Cora Béghin is vice president of learning and development at Sage, the leader in accounting, financial, HR and payroll technology for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). After earning her MBA at Montpellier Business School, one of Europe’s oldest management schools, she began her professional career at Microsoft. Prior to being VP L&D, Ms. Béghin led the culture transformation of Sage globally.
Bob Weiler is the managing founder of Brimstone Consulting, a leading consulting firm focused on helping extraordinary leaders spur big changes in their organizations, business, and industries, and to drive transformation. Brimstone’s approach weaves together best practices in action learning, process consulting, change, and leadership development. The firm’s methodology is designed to simultaneously align the organization and develop leaders while accelerating growth, performance, and profitability.
John Keller has been recruiting CEOs, board directors, and C-suite executives as a recruiter and advisor for more than two decades—skills of sourcing and qualifying he honed as a former investigative journalist for The Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek. His record includes transformational, tech-astute placements.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media