How HR Maximizes Cultural Impact

By Julia Cox
on Mar 6, 2018 9:52:18 AM


In the past, influencing company culture was like trying to capture smoke – improbable at best. Despite Deloitte’s finding that 87% of leaders believe culture is important, implementing effective change remains hit or miss. Only 28% of leaders believe they actually understand their culture, and a mere 19% believe they have the “right” culture.  Below are a few tips to help you stay on top of your company’s culture and impact positive change.

Measure – Be data-driven

The increasing use of data-driven processes presents HR with the ability to shape culture and measure progress. Data provides a less subjective approach to measurement than traditional surveys or chats around the water-cooler and Bersin found that “high-impact HR organizations are 5.2x as likely to use data to make informed decisions as low-impact HR organizations.” Data holds a wealth of insights if you are strategic in your approach.

One approach to using data to find insights on your company is to understand what behaviors your top performers are being rewarded for. Are those behaviors in line with the cultural values your company says it promotes? Gathering information on the behaviors that contributed to promotions and pay raises is indicative of your culture in practice – these are the behaviors other employees will emulate in hopes of similar results. Once you identify which behaviors are being rewarded, you can assess whether they are in line with the value props of your company. If they are, then measurement served as validation for the approach you have in place. If you see inconsistencies in what behaviors you want to reward versus what is being rewarded then measurement helped you identify any culture gaps that exist. Bringing awareness to an issue is the first step to a solution, and provides the framework for change.

Monitor – Be vigilant

Once you’ve established how you’re going to measure culture, you need a regular check-in cadance to keep an accurate pulse. Culture’s fluid nature means that measuring it one time won’t tell you what your culture will look like a year – or even a few months – from now. Prevent being caught off-guard and keep abreast of changes in your company culture by monitoring the data regularly. This helps you correct your course of action before long-term damage occurs.

Adjust – Be flexible

Now that you’ve located an issue, what do you do? Culture’s malleable nature prompts one to mirror that flexibility in the company’s processes. Unlike rigid process strategies, adaptable strategies support change and encourage growth. According to Bersin, “the highest-performing organizations have a clear focus on the future. They are judiciously and confidently moving into new territory with their people functions.” While inflexible companies are locked in internal struggle, unable to adapt to an evolving culture, high-performing organizations are embracing change and reaping the rewards.

Repeat – Be consistent

Data isn’t stagnant so maintaining a healthy culture requires consistent and continuous effort. “High-performing organizations are actively exploring new HR and workplace technologies, experimenting with new practices, and iterating on them to advance through these transformations and face the future,” says Bersin. Measuring your culture gap, monitoring it consistently, and adapting as it evolves will help create a thriving culture long-term.

To learn more about the importance and measurement of company culture check out our upcoming webinar on HR’s role as culture shapers.

Topics: People Intelligence, Performance Management

Author: Julia Cox

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