Effectively developing and growing a positive and innovative culture is easily one of the main goals of most organizations and IT companies today. It is also one of the most difficult goals given the difficulties of the past two years and the resulting impact on worker attitudes and workforce dynamics.
There are concrete reasons why a strong and collaborative culture is important for the success of a company and is worth it. More than 80% of executives who participated in a recent PwC survey argue that having a strong culture not only boosts organizational adaptability, especially in times of uncertainty, but can also provide competitive advantage. Forty-eight percent of respondents also say a distinct culture can lead to better business results, while nearly 90% indicate improved customer satisfaction.
One of the reasons many companies struggle with culture or don’t see the direct return on investment of time and effort is that most believe that educating workers about the goals and purposes of the company is enough to provide a solid cultural framework. While this is a good foundation, maintaining a strong culture, especially in today’s hybrid work environment, requires less rhetoric and more action. This includes providing meaningful training to front-line managers, using the right tools to assess teams’ strengths and weaknesses to better align them with business goals, and establishing leadership metrics and compensation structures that reinforce positive team leadership behaviors and team results, notes IDC analyst Amy Loomis.
The following five cultural pillars are more important than ever to supporting and nurturing an innovative and engaged IT culture. Here’s how we deployed them at CommScope and the impact on our culture.
1. Communication. We asked IT leaders to cross technology and business boundaries to integrate into the business, engage in staff meetings and communicate on a personal level, which isn’t easy when you’re a global company of more than 30,000 employees.
In doing so, it gave sales teams across the company the chance to ask questions and IT managers a chance to provide clarification. More importantly, it opened up channels to listen to different viewpoints from small parts of the business or from different parts of the world. I always tell my IT leadership team that their number one job is to connect with people and make sure you bring them comfort and confidence, whether it’s dealing with business challenges, challenges in the market or the pandemic. You must be there.
For example, the graph below compares the distinctions between in-person culture and digital culture according to Amy Loomis, IDC’s research director for Future of Work.
2. Trust. One of the first things you should do to establish a culture of trust is talk to your employees to find out if they truly understand their purpose in the organization and if they relate to the larger mission of the company. . Everyone should know why they come to work every day. You should also ask IT and team leaders to talk to someone on the business side and try to understand their goals and pressures. When you do this, you need to actively listen to what they are saying about the difficulties of the business or their customers. If you don’t, you’ll never put yourself in their shoes to find out what the problem might be and how you can help them. Once everyone realizes their mission and understands that you and others are there to help, it creates a framework of trust that can be used to build a stronger relationship.
3. Empathy and humility. Unless you are humble and an active listener, you cannot empathize, understand the difficulties of the business, or put yourself in a person’s shoes in terms of knowing and understanding their goals and objectives. . As a leader, it’s important to be sensitive to another person’s space in a hybrid work environment if you want them to collaborate and get the job done. The message should be that we don’t just push things from the top, but really want to listen and understand your challenges and needs. Part of that could be providing additional training or even more collaboration tools. Ultimately, it’s more about understanding and being part of the solution rather than just pushing something from the top.
4. Responsibility. True accountability comes from team leaders who instill pride and a sense of purpose in the people who report to them, making them more accountable for the actions they take and their thoughts behind those actions. They won’t be responsible if they don’t understand the overall objectives, or if the goals are unclear, and that comes from the words and actions of the team leaders. Accountability shouldn’t be a generalized concept or value, where everyone sees it as just a checkbox.
5. Flexibility. Each team and each team’s charter is different based on what they do, even if they are connected and in sync with the company message. So it’s important to get feedback from each team to find out what works and what doesn’t. It all comes down to understanding and knowing what teams, if not every employee, are going through. People are always ready to change, and the challenge for leadership is to understand and know that change is possible.
Above all, remember that the right group of people to achieve your cultural goals is the team you have. It’s about helping them see and understand where you and the business are headed, which can take a little longer. I strongly believe it is the responsibility of leadership to be articulate enough to let people know the “why” and purpose of what they are doing.