January 9, 2023

Introducing Change: Balancing Structure and Culture

As leaders, we should be able to say the following:

  • I know who my team is and where their competencies lie. I have resources and plans in place to keep them engaged and help my team grow both professionally and personally. 
  • I am proud of the way our company attracts, retains, and nurtures our employees. Our organizational structure enables our people to work to the best of their ability.
  • We put people first, always.

Today more than ever, organizations depend on the energy, enthusiasm, and engagement of their entire workforce to survive. No matter how strong your strategic plan is, your company’s success boils down to the people implementing the vision, hence Peter Drucker’s famous quote: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

However, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2017 report, researchers found that only 15% of employees worldwide are emotionally invested in committing their time and talent into advancing their organization’s goals. The cost of this disengagement is astronomical, totaling to upwards of $550 billion a year in lost productivity

Atlassian found that 88% of leaders who are looking to redesign their organization face one common challenge: finding a solution that aligns with individuals, teams, and corporate strategy. And with the rise of remote-based work, it has become increasingly difficult to reconcile what employees want vs what employers are providing. 

The bottom line? Corporate culture is a two-way street; flexibility has become a top priority for employees—and should be a top priority for management.

So how does creating a strong corporate culture fit in?

According to Conway’s Law, the structure of the product will mirror the structure of the organization that built it. At Claira, we wanted our product to be flexible and adaptable, so we built a different kind of people management model centered on competencies. By leveraging this powerful concept, clients can start with their people and build their organization around cross-functional teams.

By integrating flexibility into the core of organizations we work with, we have successfully increased the number of desired outcomes. Here are 5 ways to meet the emerging needs of your employees and create a long-lasting, genuine corporate culture:

1. Shared Values, Empowering Employees

Finding the right people can be easy, but what’s even more important is making sure your people are being heard. Today’s workforce wants to know that they’re making a genuine contribution to their organization’s work culture. 

This can mean encouraging employees to speak up if they disagree with a company’s actions, or fostering an ambitious environment that allows employees to pursue new ideas. By creating a culture of shared values and open communication, the returns on team cohesion and performance can be phenomenal. 

2. View Employees as Individuals, Not as an Aggregate 

One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is assuming that humans operate like machines, using rational, black-and-white reasoning in their decision-making process. However, according to Forbes, studies show that “we base 70% of our decisions on emotional factors and only 30% on rational factors.” With that in mind, it’s important for employers to understand that each employee is unique and has a different set of wants and needs. 

It’s too easy to look at the big picture: settling on averages and aggregate data is a lost opportunity to improve your workforce engagement and culture. Having conversations with your team to understand their wants, needs, and preferences can lead to a better dynamic within the company. By combining knowledge about both the granular details of your people’s competencies and big picture data, you can remain agile in the modern economy.

3. First Invest in People, Then Invest in Product

Every organization needs to build two things: a great product and a great culture. 

In business, change is always around the corner. However, more often than not, companies are faced with more changes than they can handle. Organizations are forced to grow too quickly with too few resources, forcing employees to do more with less. Giving your employees the training they need is key to setting up your team for success. This also means removing barriers or obstacles to your workforce’s growth. 

4. Outcome Over Output

Another way to build your corporate culture is by emphasizing outcomes over output. Too often, we obsess over the optics of productivity and maximizing the “effectiveness” of our team. By introducing an OKR framework (Objectives and Key Results), your team’s definition of success becomes more meaningful. 

5. Try, Learn, Adapt, Repeat

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve all learned that teleporting office-based practices into a remote setting comes with a unique set of challenges. The same can be applied to employee engagement. Instead of “lifting and shifting” existing employee engagement models into our new environment (in-person, hybrid, remote), leaders should consistently audit and evaluate meetings, workflows, and individual responsibilities and adjust them regularly in order to figure out what’s working and what’s not.  

So What?

The truth of the matter is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” employee engagement model. At Claira, we’re made plenty of adjustments, and surely more will be needed as our priorities change and needs shift. 

The secret to success lies within your people: getting everyone involved and being open to change is key. Communication is a two way street; by listening and empowering your employees, you can set your team and organization up for success. Change comes from within: shifting the power to your people can help your organization reach its fullest potential.

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