CONSULTING ON CULTURE
The Secret To Gaining Competitive Advantage
You constantly work to craft better strategies, and adopt better practices, than your competition. You watch business conditions and your local and regional economies for changes that offer opportunities or present threats.
But where do you stand, compared to your rivals, when:
- Chosen strategies and practices are applied haphazardly, with different approaches ruling different locations or functions?
- You devise responses to opportunities and threats, but seemingly take forever to adopt those practices throughout the organization?
- You have merged with or acquired other institutions, and you're still trying to get on the same page while your competition trots ahead doing business as usual?
Coming up with great business ideas delivers little competitive advantage if you cannot implement those ideas quickly, thoroughly, and consistently. Combining the strengths of two organizations produces no benefit until you distill their cultures, the way you do things throughout the organization, into a single, uniform approach.
Why "Tight" Beats "Right"
The most important thing about the culture of your institution is not the particular beliefs and strategies espoused by leadership, nor is it the actual practices of your front-line employees. The most important thing is:
how consistently different staff across different levels, locations,
and functions handle similar situations
When common business situations or customer requests arise, how confident are you that an executive and a young front-line credit officer come up with the same answers? Do different players in different roles, in different branches or regions, believe the same things about "how we do things around here"?
When you get the same answers, no matter who or where you ask, you have a tight culture that can help you thrive, not just survive, because:
- A tight culture makes you nimble, responding quickly to changing business situations by rapidly implementing revised strategies.
- A tight culture prevents ugly surprises, when your leadership plans one thing and employees do another.
In spite of the best intentions when your leadership sets strategies and designates desired practices, there are many ways to end up with a "loose" culture that neuters those strategies and puts you a step behind your competition as you respond to changing conditions and opportunities:
- Differences can be strong when the current organization is the result of mergers and acquisitions. That may demand training, perhaps customized to reflect the new combined culture, on core topics to ensure that everyone is taking the same approach.
- Communication systems may not be effective. The (same) message is not getting across to everyone who needs to hear and apply it.
- Like the famous "telephone game" -- I whisper something to you, you whisper it to the next person, etc. -- important messages, the vision of the leadership, may have become distorted and diluted simply because no one is paying explicit attention to whether different parts of the institution believe and do the same things. Effective communication, shared vision and practices, have been assumed. An explicit assessment of the culture is the first step in testing that assumption.
- Credit policy has grown from a coherent plan for your credit business to a patchwork of special situations, and a confusing mix of self-contradictory guidelines. Without a strong, consistent policy, strong consistent action becomes impossible.
Culture Truly Matters to Your Success
To learn more about why culture is at the heart of your success:
- Download my free Culture Matters article to learn more about "Six Common Misconceptions About Corporate Culture That May Be Holding Back Your Bank."
- Explore the advantages of tight culture through my 23-page white paper, "Build Your Culture, Build Your Business". Learn more about how tightening your culture can make you more nimble, more resilient, and more successful. You'll also learn more about the symptoms of a "loose" culture, and about how to assess and improve your culture.
Is Your Culture Working For You?
Don't miss out on the competitive advantages of a "tight" culture. Contact me:
- To find out just how tight or loose your culture is. I'll administer a customized anonymous employee survey to show you where you really stand as an organization.
- To review your credit policy, the foundation of your standards and practices. Without a consistent, relevant, living policy, how can you expect to be more effective than your rivals?
- To discuss training as a tool to get everyone on the same page, regardless of location, level or function.
Whether you understand and manage your culture, or you leave it to evolve and drift on its own, your culture will make a long term difference to your success. It's up to you!