By John Harte, Managing Partner at Integrity Governance
For real, tangible business growth having a positive culture in the workplace is essential. This requires having healthy day-to-day attitudes, behaviours and work ethics within an organisation.
For those boards who have put off reviewing the culture at their business because they were in crisis mode during the pandemic, now is the time to undertake a review. With the world experiencing another crisis with the invasion of Ukraine, uncertainty and volatility are the new normal.
Also, at a time of intense competition for talented people, the culture at organisations is an enabler or, in some cases, a limitation on being an “employer of choice”.
It is therefore timely for boards to assess the culture of the board and their organisation to ensure that the culture is fit for purpose to deliver long term growth.
Effective boards recognise that they are responsible as custodians of culture – keeping, protecting and nurturing the good things, the “assets”, in company culture.
They also need awareness to address where the culture is not appropriate and must change for the business to be “fit for the future”. This requires that they understand and address the cultural liabilities of their organisation.
In fact, effective boards enact their role in culture by inspiring it, ensuring alignment, demonstrating authenticity by both reflecting and demonstrating the behaviours implicit in the culture, while guiding, encouraging and assuring themselves about it.
Culture is a hot topic for boards. We observe three populations on the boards that we work with:
Effective and successful boards over the past couple of years have demanded adaptability, resilience, courage and candour. These remain just as relevant today with the current volatility in the world, and must be the pillars of company culture moving forward.
Ignoring culture will more likely than not see boards preside over an organisation with poor company culture. It can lead to a major disconnect between the behaviour that was promised and what was actually delivered by the business, along with bad practices which will damage the reputation and performance of the organisation. Also, the damaging practices and harmful outcomes caused by a poor culture is motivating governments and regulators around the world to make directors legally liable for the culture within the companies they lead.
In a volatile world, it is more important than ever that boards step up and become “effective enablers” when it comes to culture. Fostering a culture of adaptability, resilience, courageousness and candour in the workplace will play a critical role in ensuring their organisation delivers a strong performance in uncertain times. However, to achieve this boards must support and demonstrate the culture they shape at all times, and help provide assurance around it. If they don’t the culture they nurture will not be effectively adopted throughout the organisation.