Company culture plays a more significant role in strategic planning than some people realise. Managing directors and team leaders need to ensure there is clarity regarding expected behaviours of employees. Most employees want to contribute to the long-term success of the business but how you get there is just as important as the end goal as Mike Gaffney explains.
Definition of strategy by Oxford: a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.
The word strategy frightens some business people but strategy is simply a game plan. This plan is a road map to secure your future. Strategic planning and company culture go hand in hand. The plan must address what sort of culture you will have in the organisation for it to be successful. That should be a key part of the plan in order to build a better future.
What is company culture?
A culture is the collective way that the organisation works both internally and within the marketplace; it is how we behave. In developing your plan for the business, the strategy will be driven by the people in the organisation, in other words the success of your strategic plan depends on the kind of company culture you create.
A key question is ‘what drives our behaviours?’
The answer is our values. These are the attitudes and beliefs we have that influence our behaviours every day – honesty, integrity, authenticity, passion, commitment. Behaviour is also driven by our ambition to be successful and our need to feel significant and relevant in what we do. All of these things make up the culture of an organisation.
The strategic planning challenge
The strategic planning challenge then is how to tap into the key motivations of individuals within the organisation. For example, a company may have a clear set of compelling values like honesty, respect, support, innovation and a can-do attitude. This is their reference point; it’s what they hire and fire by. Teams within such organisations are not focused entirely on profit margins but they also want to know if they have a long-term future with the company. Do I respect the company values?
Do those values protect me and help me progress and feel respected within the organisation and within my team?
In relation to the company’s vision and mission, culture is what will drive engagement in the workforce. All the planning in the world will fail if the plan does not outline how you are going to engage the workforce and make them feel valued. So creating the right organisational culture is pivotal to the planning process. The plan will contains goals, objectives and tactics but without a culture of engaging the team the plan will fall flat.
Also bear in mind that strategic plans are fluid; it is a statement of intent by the organisation as to where they want to get to and how they are going to get there. As you progress further in that journey you gain greater visibility than you had at the start, so naturally it will need to be adjusted and fine-tuned. It should also be used as a mechanism to challenge the original premise on which the plan was based. Are we as a company moving in the right direction, or does the plan need to change? Perhaps it does but the core values of the organisation should remain regardless of any changes in strategy.
Honesty, respect, integrity, passion and a supportive environment – these things still matter.
Product lines and services may evolve, internal operations may also change but a positive company culture based on your value system should remain in place.
Mike Gaffney , MD
Interview by Des Kirby. Learn about our leadership and management programmes
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