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An adaptive corporate culture is an important part of any organization’s long-term success. Yes, managers and C-level personnel set the standards for how business is run, but it’s the values and practices shared by the employees that will guide the hundreds of decisions they make on their own every day.

Why Culture Matters

As Frances Frei and Anne Morriss write in this article for the Harvard Business Review, “Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is of course most of the time”. These seemingly small decisions add up. For example, some studies show that companies with adaptive cultures successfully aligned to its business goals outperform their competitors by 200% or more.

Companies that deal with supply chains or are in the business of running supply chains need to take extra precaution for these reasons. With so many stakeholders and moving parts in a supply chain, it is easy to forget about fostering a healthy culture, and instead leaving ignoring the issue until it becomes toxic. However, if left unchecked a toxic corporate culture can not only severely injure a company’s reputation, but the reputation of an entire industry if it becomes the norm.

5 Steps to Implementing and Measuring Culture

Culture is at its core, a structured system, is something that can be purposefully implemented and evaluated through these five steps:

1. Define Core Values

Well defined core values reflect the priorities your business holds. They’ll inform how your employees behave and act with each other and the professional tone of the work place. Without a well-defined and meaningful set of core values, attitudes and expectations become confused. This could lead to situations of mediocrity, laziness, lack of accountability and general unprofessionalism.

2. Align Core Values

Core values need to apply to everyone. They need to start at the top levels of leadership, and radiate across all levels of the organizations from the top down. Leadership needs to be both an example of the values in action, and a facilitator that reinforces these same values in the behaviours of their staff. Higher productivity and increased job satisfaction can only come about with the involvement of manages ensuring that workplace attitudes, work ethic, and daily routines matches the company’s core values.

3. Reinforce Core Values

Core values can be reinforced through recognition of outstanding team members, encouragement of new ideas, and standardizing employee and manager reactions to conflict. Reinforcement also needs to extend outside the organization to potential clients, partners, and vendors.

“It is important to choose an outsourcing partner or client whose values align with your own and who can integrate easily from a culture standpoint. This improves communication, cooperation, and efficiency, and results in enhanced performance and reduced costs” writes Ron Cain from Inbound Logistics.

4. Measure the Integration

Like with any other aspect of a business, accountability and transparency needs to also be factored into culture. For this reason, a careful and deliberate cultural assessment needs to be conducted of the organization to measure how well your company integrates core values into cultural variables.

Getting a second opinion in this area may also be a good idea so hiring a culture auditor should also be considered if the budget is available and time is a factor.

5. Build Action Plans

A detailed plan with defined expectations, attitudes, accountability, and metrics is necessary if it is to succeed. Leadership also needs to be in regular communication with employees to issue and track performance. By doing so, your organization will be able to affect a change in culture in a stable, measureable, and lasting way.

By having a well-defined company culture your organization won’t just have a better bottom line, and improved morale, but also a better chance for success in the long-term for years to come.

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