Whatever your company culture was like before the pandemic, one result is that it may change. With social distancing limiting room and building occupancy, workers reporting that they prefer not commuting to an office ever day of the week*, and companies reporting that, on average, workers have been more productive during lockdown than they were in the office, this is a chance to also improve on the culture.
Even before the pandemics, companies were moving from centralized offices (often accompanied by hierarchical command-and control (HCC) leadership style) to distributed workforces (e.g., outsourcing, gig-workers, etc.) and adopting a “network-teams” leadership style. (The latter combines the best of the Team-of-Teams approach popularized by General Stanley McCrystal and Holacracy which was adopted by Zappos.)
The system of work over the last 90 days wasn’t planned to maximize productivity, cultural relationships, etc. It came quickly and we all learned to turn out homes into an office and little by little use the tools we had (e.g. Zoom) to keep in touch with one another building on the culture we had. However, as we commit to a new working style, we can commit to a culture that‘s most conductive to people’s professional and personal growth, as well as team effectiveness, while increasing productivity and profits.
Last year, the national Center for the Middle Market, in partnership with Grant Thornton and The Ohio State University identified seven cultural types and evaluated the performance of companies with each type. Analyzing them will help your company intentionally design a culture most appropriate to the corporate and individual values, behaviors and attitudes within your firm. They are:
- Customer-centric. This is a “customer-first” approach to business. Companies react quickly to changing needs of their customers.
- Innovative and Creative. Companies with this approach are looking for new ways to create value with new products, services, processes and channels.
- Risk-Averse. The message in these companies is “Don’t get it wrong; make sure you’re correct.” In a post-Covid world where change is taking place everywhere else, the feat may generate paralysis.
- Great Place to Work. This is the employee-centric mentality that creates a stimulating environment for employees, so they grow professionally and personally, and are engaged in their work; they are connected to others through virtual happy hours, daily huddles, and other fun challenges.
- Continuous Improvement. Here the focus is on steady gains in customer offerings and processes. The goal is to get better – employees, processes, products, etc. – for an ongoing Competitive Advantage.
- Technically Oriented. The culture seeks the highest quality products and services through engineering of all kinds. Early in the lockdown, these companies led in the adoption of collaboration and other tech tools.
- Highly Efficient. This culture is focused on eliminating inefficiencies and staying lean. The culture communicates to everyone the importance of now wasting scarce resources.
What’s your current culture-type? Why? What led to the development of that culture? Remember, there is no ONE right answer for every company, even within the same industries. The difference in cultures is noticeable in the relative tradeoffs that we inevitably make. Do we stay later at work to make sure the client gets the project on time, or do we negotiate a delay in product delivery for employee-centric activities?
Now, re-imagine your company post-pandemic. Given the new nature of your business for clients and employees, which would be most effective in the future? Why? How do you transition from the old one to the new ones?
These are the questions you and your leadership team need to explore in order to pick the best possible culture for the post-pandemic, distributed workforce era. If you need help with this process, we can schedule a conversation; contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-493-1334.