It is widely accepted that an organization’s culture is comprised of shared values, underlying perceptions, feelings and behaviors as well as observational artifacts – such as dress code, symbols and stories. But what happens when these cultural components vary – across an organization and/or across groups of people?
The concept of convergence is defined as people coming together and uniting around a common goal or shared focus.1 At Monigle, we believe true cultural effectiveness happens when leadership, employee and consumer beliefs converge with business strategy.
The importance of alignment
When thinking about any large-scale organizational initiative, we often talk about the importance of senior leadership buy-in and support. The same holds true for establishing cultural effectiveness. But the truth is, an organization’s culture can’t just be pushed down from leadership. There must be buy-in throughout the organization.
Convergence of leadership and employee ideals gives rise to culture cohesion. And research shows that alignment between leadership and employees is directly correlated to higher levels of employee engagement.2 That means when leaders and employees are in sync, employees are more committed to their work, the organization and frankly, are just happier.
And while internal alignment is a critical dimension of cultural success, it means nothing if it doesn’t support your market and consumer demands. Said differently, your culture must support your business strategy. Truly understanding what consumers need and what they place value on allows you to better optimize your culture with the end user in mind. Furthermore, taking into consideration dynamics impacting your industry will ensure you are operationalizing your culture in a way that will meet market demands and constraints.
A strong culture isn’t always an effective culture
We’ve talked a great deal about the importance of convergence, but “high convergence” isn’t always a good thing – especially if a few components are misaligned.
Take for instance a scenario where employees across an organization are highly aligned to a set of beliefs and values. If a new leader comes in – say a CEO – whose beliefs and values aren’t aligned with that of their employee base, you run the risk of eroding positive cultural sentiments that have been previously established.
Imagine another scenario where an organization’s internal culture is highly aligned but doesn’t support the direction the business needs to go. If your culture is misaligned with your business strategy, it can be a tremendous liability because it is significantly more challenging to shift a “high convergence” culture toward new business goals.3
The net takeaway is that convergence on all levels is the real key to cultural effectiveness.
How to evaluate your level of convergence
Now that we’ve established the importance of convergence across leadership, employees, consumers and business goals, how do you measure how you’re doing? Here are a few critical questions to ask yourself to assess your own culture:
- Internal convergence
- How aligned are the beliefs, values and organizational perceptions between your leaders and your employees?
- Is your c-suite’s leadership style best suited to inspire your employee base toward a achieving a common purpose?
- Strategic convergence
- Does your culture support with your business strategy?
- Do your cultural strengths propel you toward reaching your goals or diminish your chances of success?
- How might your culture need to evolve to support your future business objectives?
- Industry and consumer convergence
- Does your culture align with specific demands and/or constraints impacting your market?
- Does what you stand for and the values of your organization, align with that of your customers?
Once you have answered these key questions on your own convergence measurements, we would love to continue the conversation. Reach out to us and let us know what resonates with you? What are some “cultural hurdles” you have experienced?
1 Merriam Webster
2 The culture factor: essential guide to determining your organization’s current culture and shaping it to fit your strategy, HBR, January-February 2018 issue