Culture eats strategy for breakfast
Are we spending too much time worrying about our strategy, rather than tackling what matters most? The truth is, culture, or a lack of it, is infinitely more important — and could kill your strategy before it even gets off the ground.
Ask anyone who has recently left a job why they left, and you’ll get a cacophony of answers. “I hated my boss”, “I wasn’t progressing”, “The food in the canteen wasn’t great”. Call them excuses, reasons, whatever they are, but the real truth is that people don’t leave their jobs — they leave the culture.
If the culture is geared up to let bad managers run rife, or for that person to feel like they’re not getting the support they need, then engagement takes a nosedive and the CVs start hitting recruiters’ inboxes.
The Peter Drucker quote that makes up the title of this article hits this nail right on the head. HR professionals and decision-makers spend thousands, maybe millions of hours thinking about the best ways to entice and retain great people, poring over perks and benefits, and debating the onboarding process. And while important, it’s all meaningless if organisational culture isn’t set in stone above the door.
Why your culture comes first
The culture eats strategy for breakfast quote means that no matter how strong your strategic plan is, its efficacy will be held back by members of your team if they don't share the proper culture. But ask yourself, realistically, if culture is placed above strategy when it comes to the recruitment life cycle.
Getting lost in the details is all too easy. Review your HR strategy now, and we’ll guess it includes sections about reducing costs, improving retention or creating a better onboarding process. Are there any sections on what your cultural perks and benefits are? Do you celebrate the small wins? Are your people trusted to work when or where they want to?
Culture is led by the beliefs, attitudes, practices and customs that people are exposed to when they interact with your business, not the welcome bonuses, refer-a-friend schemes, perks, or flexible working hours that are usually at the top of the list when it comes to HR strategies.
Really, we should probably be talking about the uncomfortable stuff, rather than hiding behind the policies and strategies designed to keep us engaged. And for that we have a question, a question we certainly didn’t come up with, but it’s still a great question to have: are you on the bus?
Creating somewhere people love to be
Take away salaries, discounts, flexible working, working hours, company cars and all the other perks, and then ask if your employees understand your vision and are 100% committed to helping you fulfill it. The answers you’d get, if you got total honesty, would probably be quite concerning. And you know what? Those who do understand your culture, who do fully believe it aligns with their own values and goals, and the ones who say ‘yes, I’m on the bus’, are the ones you can consistently rely on and not have to worry about appeasing with strategies and tactics.
Do you agree that everything begins with culture? Or are you firmly a strategy person who doesn’t value culture as a priority? Join the debate with me on LinkedIn, or share this article with someone you’re trying to convince!