HNI Wisconsin President
Corporate cultures are changing and evolving — that is an unavoidable fact. The variable is who will shape, lead, and manage that change. The importance of corporate culture comes into focus as a new leader takes the helm.
Culture is a lot like trust. It takes years to build and moments to damage. Positive culture does not happen overnight. People will keep doing what they’ve always done. Even with focused leadership, it may take years to get everyone thinking like an owner and making vision/mission-type decisions. Successful employee risk management is a long-term commitment.
Hypothetical Firms Show Importance of Corporate Culture
A weak culture poses a major risk to an organization. Consider the blatant differences between the following two hypothetical companies:
Company A has a top-down drill sergeant leadership style with a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to risk. Employees are focused on completing tasks and orders. No one would dare say anything to anyone if a process was wrong or wasteful. The rank and file is left to understand that the company doesn’t have time for thought, creativity, or vision. The importance of corporate culture is low to non-existent.
Company B embraces risk and actually treats it as a profit center. The attitude here is, “Let’s look ahead a bit, see around corners, and solve issues before they become big problems.” Waste is the enemy, and all employees feel empowered by the CEO because he actually takes action and reports back during regular communication meetings. Employees here understand what we call “The Why.” When changes are instituted, no one is left out; everyone plays a role and understands the damage they could do if they opt out.
The Difference is (Almost) Tangible
Company B acknowledges and effectively manages people risk. The company recognizes the importance of corporate culture and how engaging the hearts and minds of employees ripples into the ultimate profitability of the company. You can feel the difference when you walk through the door — at both firms.