Organizational Culture – Is There A Need To Review Your Culture Initiatives

I recently found an article, “Your Company Culture Can’t be Disconnected from Your Customers, written by Dave Ulrich and Wayne Brockbank of Harvard Business Review;  This article appeared on one of my feeds and thought it was share worthy because it addresses the importance of organizational culture and the impact that it may have on the relationship with your customer base.

I liked the article for several reasons.  For me, it suggests that all companies are a blank slate until there is a reason to do business together.  And alas, this creates that “first experience” that can make or break the deal- whether it be a returning customer for a meal, a cup of coffee, launching a new product, or implementing a new process.  This article also suggests that even if there is a positive, fluff filled first culture experience, the company oftentimes relies upon the experiences delivered by the employees to validate whether the organization truly lives up to service and delivery expectations and “make or break” future business relationships.

Employees, if they believe in their company, embrace ownership of what the company represents.  It is important that when someone asks them where they work, they can respond pridefully that they work for company XYZ.  This response can be validated in your employee engagement surveys.  This is true if the organization is a start-up or whether the organization has had an historical impact – which of course can be a restaurant, a professional services provider, or a manufacturing company.  But we know that time and econonomic realities  has the propensity to change embedded values; if they truly existed.    Current economic environments may require that “shifts” be made in how “business is done“.  As is true with any type of change, organizations have a responsibility to ensure that that employees understand and follow new initiatives and ways of doing business.  To discount this step in the process is only asking for a disconnected workforce that is wondering “what is going on”, “why”, and “they question their roles and/or effectiveness” until such a point that they are just employees on your payroll.   

The article speaks in generalities in three levels to broadly define the dynamics and concepts of “thought” regarding organizational culture:

#1 – Embracing organizational stories and events that define you as an organization.  I have supported amyriad of industries, but I love manufacturing and service organizations – it’s either you got it or you don’t; especially as it relates to being customer oriented.

#2 – Embracing the the thoughts of the employee as they support you in your business initiatives – how they feel, how they behave, their values and norms, the unwritten rules, and their emotional responses.

#3 – Embracing how customers identify with your organization and their perceptions.  From this perspective, organizations are able to get “an outside in view” for them to identify with how you fulfill “external promises, thus allowing for the opportunity to implement the right processes and practices that makes your employees thrive.

The writers of this article summarized it beautifully as they added a three step protocol for ensuring that, comprehensively,the needs of the employees and the needs of the customers are met.  Steps 1 and 2 speaks to the importance of creating the right culture and parlaying a customer-centric perspective into how business is conducted.   Step 3, in terms of the views of the authors, truly speak to considerations that organizations need to consider in an on-going basis……

Step 3 of Level III –

“Design the right processes, practices, and structures for supporting and encouraging those behaviors. Management and organization processes, practices, and structures create and sustain the right behaviors, thereby institutionalizing the desired culture. These processes, practices, and structures include staffing, training, promotions, measurement, rewards, organization structure, work design, information management, physical arrangements, and leadership development. Through these elements, managers reinforce employee actions that align with customer expectations.”

It is refreshing to see a perspective on organizational culture that aligns with employee engagement and establishes a formula for success as we bridge organizational culture with employee engagement and employee effectiveness.

Contact Vision Qwest Solutions to help you to identify viable options identifying and/or understanding obstacles that impact the effectiveness of your organizational culture initiatives at or contact me via email at

Your Company Culture Can’t be Disconnected from Your Customers

written by Dave Ulrich and Wayne Brockbank of Harvard Business Review.

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