Dear CEO, Having Your Values On The Wall Isn’t Enough For A Great Culture
Many a time I have been asked how a business knows they need to revisit their culture and just as many that I have been told by a CEO that they have a great culture whilst they go on to tell me the signs are that they don’t.
So, what exactly should you be looking for? Here’s my list of the top 11 signs that might be telling you it’s time for a culture change.
The numbers tell a fading story
For whatever reason, if your sales are on a downward trajectory its a sure sign there’s a problem. Whether it is the actual product or the way you are working the underlying truth is that the organization is either failing to leverage intelligence and adapt or is simply not agile enough to keep up with market trends.
Your people aren’t happy
Happiness is an integral part of profitability. If your employees are not happy with you then as well as the impact on your HR budget from high turnover of staff and sickness they will also care less and its that loss of attention to detail and will to succeed that could cost you most dearly. Introducing an innovation culture that everyone has a stake in sends out a strong message about the value of employees.
Everyone is at each other’s throats
Well its quite a dramatic way to describe interdepartmental wrangling but you know how it feels to be working in a business with hostilities between teams. There are lots of reasons this happens but whatever the reason a culture of innovation brings with it the importance of collaboration, an essential part of a profitable and agile business.
It takes forever to get things done
Often the way a business evolves means that new processes and people are added to old processes and existing teams. The end result is that projects often end up taking twice as long and not necessarily in the most time and cost-effective way. When the way a business is working is so slow that over-running projects are being overtaken by events its time for a change.
Your reputation isn’t quite what it was
In these days of social media, a single complaint can make a whole world of difference to the reputation of your company. Getting it right as well as ensuring complaints are dealt with in the right way is a key part of your overall branding. If you’ve lost touch with your customers, there is a product failure or customer service just isn’t a priority a bad reputation is a sure sign its time to review.
You are getting left behind
For many CEOs one of the biggest worries is the speed of change in the market. New technologies and advances in AI mean that just to keep up businesses and products need to reinvent themselves just to keep up. Creating a culture of innovation that includes everyone from employees to customers and suppliers means you’ll reach a holistic solution.
Your product looks just like your closest competitors
When the only thing that differentiates you from the competition is price then you are on the road to nowhere. Your profitability will drop as you work harder and harder to sell more. It’s at this point you need to rethink what your point of difference is and your business culture will be at the heart of this.
Your customers want different things
Changes in the way customers interact with your business or product can have a fundamental effect on your success. Ensuring your culture changes in line with your customers’ expectations may well require innovative solutions. What we are seeing demonstrated on the high street today, through the demise of businesses like Toy ‘R’ Us is that changes in customer expectations mean that businesses that don’t keep up are failing to go the distance.
There’s a shiny new kid on the block
A disruptor in the market taking share away from you in a market where you have traditionally held good market share and customer loyalty is a common catalyst for a culture change. Customer loyalty will only go so far when they are being tempted by nimble, flexible businesses offering choice and speed. Unless you can deliver innovation in the marketplace of today your customers will start to disappear.
Your regulator tells you so
This is probably the clearest sign you will receive that you need to start embracing a culture of innovation. The financial sector has received the most obvious and high-profile signals that it is time for a change but it can happen in any industry. Sometimes it is worth bearing in mind that even some of the regulations might need an innovative approach to make them work for your business.
That funny feeling
As CEO you are an integral part of your business, you very likely have many years of experience working in great, and not so great places so you know deep down when something isn’t right. Combined with any one of the signs above its time to revisit your culture.
Quite simply, there are so many signs that you need to address your culture but ensuring that you are looking for them is the first step. Assessing and measuring your culture is the next step. Read our book Building A Culture Of Innovation for more about spotting the signs its time for a change.
This article originally appeared on cultureconsultancy.com.
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